Awards given for contributions to the geothermal industry
The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) began recognizing companies and individuals who were doing great things in the world of geothermal two years ago, and this year has recognized 11 different projects in four different categories: technological advancement, economic development, environmental stewardship and special recognition.
“For years we fought that people thought everything to be done was done in the ’60s and ’70s,” said GEA executive director, Karl Gawell. “But there are a lot of fundamental things that need to be done that people are helping us to produce, and there’s also a lot of new stuff that’s being done and developed. It’s one of these things that you often forget to thank your own people—give a little bit of applause to those who are doing great things in our industry.”
The technological advancement award was given to U.S. Geothermal’s 22 MW Neal Hot Springs Geothermal Power Plant in Vale, Ore.
GeothermEx, one of the leading analytical firms in geothermal energy worldwide, received the economic development award. They have helped to develop 7,000 megawatts of geothermal energy, according to Gawell.
In the environmental stewardship category, Dale Merrick of Canby Geothermal was recognized for the work he’s done to create a community-based geothermal project in Canby, Calif. If his project is successful, the community would be powered entirely by geothermal energy and “be the first net zero community in California.” Gawell said the state has identified 71 other communities where this could be a possibility, so Merrick’s project could be a model for later communities.
Eight projects received special recognition. Katherine Young and her team at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory were given this award for their work on the Geothermal Regulatory Roadmapping Effort—a working guide of the process of creating a geothermal project from beginning to end.
The Steamboat Hot Springs Healing Center here in Reno was also recognized in this category. This center uses hot springs water to heat the tubs, complex and ancillary buildings already and is trying to eliminate traditional power altogether. They’re also building a healing center with alternative therapies using geothermal waters and a museum and library for public education about geothermal energy.
Authors Magnus Gehringer and Victor Loksha of the World Bank for the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program Geothermal Handbook were recognized as well for their handbook on planning and financing geothermal projects. The team at Cornell University that helped with some of GEA’s analysis papers, particularly the Geothermal Externalities Paper, was included in this award category, too.
Ormat was also recognized for its Campbell plant to be completed this year in Mineral County, and for its work with ENEL Green Power North America on the Cove Fort plant in Utah. The last projects recognized were Surprise Valley Electric Cooperative’s Oregon plant, nearly completion, and Gradient Resources’ Patua Geothermal Project 10 miles outside of Fernley.