Of all the ‘mainstream’ forms of renewable energy, it seems that geothermal power is always left in the shadows compared to solar and wind power. However, that looks set to change with news that the US Department of Energy will fund geothermal projects in northwestern Nevada and southeast Oregon. With funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the DOE has stated a “conditional commitment” to provide a partial guarantee for a rumoured $98.5 million loan to the Nevada Geothermal Power Company (NGP).
The Silver State-based company has developed the Faulkner 1, a 49.5 MW geothermal power project at NGP’s Blue Mountain site in northwestern Nevada. Currently, the project is planning two new injection wells to enhance the distribution of injected fluids and further augment the plant’s power output. As such, the DOE is acting as loan guarantor for up to 80 percent of the $98.5 million loan to NGP for the scheme.
As part of the Obama administration’s Recovery Act, alternative energy has seen a real increase in investment with projects such as the Cape Wind Farm being finalized. Recent tragedies such as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill have only solidified support for alternative energy.
Geothermal projects haven’t dominated headlines like solar and wind projects have, but US Senator Harry Reid hopes to see that change. Speaking about the DOE’s support, Senator Reid said, “I am glad to see economic recovery funding being used to put Nevadans to work on a project that will help us achieve energy independence” He went on to say, “Northern Nevada is the Saudi Arabia of geothermal energy.”