Geothermal project of the year

Only one utility-scale geothermal power plant was installed in the United States last year, and it was in Nevada, by Reno-based Ormat echnologies.

The 15 megawatt plant was brought online in Jersey Valley, along the border of Pershing and Lander counties. Set for completion later this year, it’s expected to be a 25 MW plant. The electricity produced is being sold to NV Energy.

“In addition to providing a new source of renewable energy, the completion of the Jersey Valley project contributes to the success of the geothermal industry as a whole and will provide essential insights for future exploration and development efforts,” said Ormat CEO and president Yoram Bronicki in a prepared statement.

But Renewable Energy World editor Stephen Lacey says 15 MW in a year is not something for the industry to celebrate when compared to solar, which doubled its capacity in the United States to about 900 MW last year, or to wind, which still managed to put in 5GW in the country despite a 50 percent drop in installations.

However, Lacey also cited a Geothermal Energy Association statistic that said more than 500 MW of geothermal projects are in advanced stages of development in the United States. Those could come online this year or in 2012, making for a 25 percent growth in geothermal projects since 2009. Ormat alone says it has 100 MW of projects underway and has secured loan guarantees for three new power plants in Nevada.