Regarding the choice between solar and geothermal energy, Enel Green Power North America said, “We’ll take both,” for its Stillwater Geothermal plant in Churchill County. The company just received final approval to build a solar plant on 240 acres next to its existing geothermal site, making it the first renewable energy project in the country to combine geothermal and solar energy to meet its energy supply needs. The idea is that geothermal will take care of base loads while solar energy is used for peak hours, providing a more consistent supply of energy. (More common is plants that combine intermittent renewable technologies, like solar or wind, with coal or natural gas to address base loads.) The 24 megawatts of energy the PV panels are expected to generate will be sold to NV Energy.
The company says the project’s ability to share power lines and operational facilities help reduce costs and environmental impacts. An estimated 150 Nevada workers are expected to construct the solar installation.
Enel’s only two geothermal power plants are in Nevada, the other being Salt Wells, also in Churchill County.