Geothermal power plants, that now service over 3 million American households, can provide both flexible and base-load power that will be needed in the future, according to a new report published today by the Geothermal Energy Association. “While baseload power has its advantages and benefits, the future electricity grid, dominated by variable energy resource (primarily wind and solar), will have particularly important values for technologies that can be flexible,” states Ben Matek, GEA’s Industry Analyst and Research Projects Manager and author of the report.
“Geothermal energy is the few renewable energy sources to date that can provide a full range of both ancillary services and baseload power to a power system,” asserts Matek. The report, Firm and Flexible Power Services Available from Geothermal Facilities, documents previous geothermal project utilization as flexible capacity, highlighting experiences in Hawaii and California. “For most geothermal power plants, flexibility is more of an economic issue than a technical one,” the report concludes.
The report examines some of the suggestions recent studies have made to encourage flexible geothermal power through solicitations and contracts, and reviews the broad categories of ancillary services possible from geothermal plants.
“State and regional power officials have been asking what role geothermal power can play in the low-carbon power system of the future,” Karl Gawell, GEA’s Executive Director stated. “This report replies, ‘geothermal is ready’ to be part of a climate friendly power system and points out that what is needed are the right policies to facilitate its expanded role.”
This report, and the issues it raises for geothermal power’s future, will also be discussed by leading state officials, utility representatives, and geothermal industry leaders at the National Geothermal Summit, June 3-4, in Reno, Nevada. For more information about the Geothermal Summit go to: http://www.geo-energy.org/NationalGeothermalSummit/Main.aspx. The report, Firm and Flexible Power Services Available from Geothermal Facilities, is available to download in PDF format at http://www.geo-energy.org/.