New strides in Hybrid Energy Systems

Not content with creating the first hybrid power plant in the world, Enel Green Power is also moving ahead of the pack in new hybrid systems, like combining thermodynamic solar power and geothermal energy.

Enel Green Power is conducting research into hybrid renewable energy systems (HRES) as a way to push the renewable energy sector forward, improving its own plant performance at the same time. At present its focus is on increasing the compatibility of geothermal power with solar power and biomass.

This work has already produced notable achievements like theStillwater plant, which is the first hybrid power plant in the world and combines geothermal and PV Solar power, and which won the Honors Award from the United States Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) .

Combining geothermal and PV solar power is not the only area in which EGP is working however: advances are also being made in the integration of energy generation processes. ‘We are working on integrating thermodynamic solar power into a geothermal plant, using the Sun’s thermal heat to increase heating of geothermal fluid,’ explains Fabrizio Bizzarri, EGP’s head of Innovation Scouting and Selection.

At the plant, which is the first one of its type in the whole world and was designed jointly with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the solar power plant heats up a fluid, a mix of water and ethylene glycol, which is heated up to about 200 degrees centigrade and used to raise the temperature of the geothermal fluid, increasing the efficiency of both the entire thermodynamic energy cycle and production.

‘In terms of solar integration, the plant adds about 17 thermal megawatts, equivalent to five megawatts of additional capacity. That means that the yearly production will increase by around 14 gigawatt-hours,’ adds Bizzarri.

The project will cost $13million and will be financed by the bodies that typically finance this sort of technology. As Bizzarri added: ‘the US Department of Energy has shown an interest in this sort of project.’