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02/09/2011 09:36 AM     print story email story  

DOE Tests Geothermal, Analyzes Electric Vehicle Deployment News

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Monday announced plans to leverage oil and gas expertise to test the reliability and efficiency of geothermal power generation at oil and gas fields.

DOE's Office of Fossil Energy and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will combine efforts to have experts test and validate low temperature geothermal power generation technologies at the Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center (RMOTC) near Casper, Wyoming.

The goal of the project is to support state-of-the-art research and development into geothermal power generation technology using co-produced fluids from older oil and gas operations. This hybridization combines traditional fossil energy operations with emerging renewable technologies to evaluate low temperature geothermal power production from oil fields.

DOE's Geothermal Technologies Program (GTP) is currently funding 17 projects demonstrating low temperature, co-produced and geopressured resources in different geological conditions. GTP's goal is to help enable online capacity of 3 gigawatts of electricity a year from these resources by 2020. RMOTC received funding from GTP in 2009 to develop infrastructure for future geothermal testing at the Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 3 (NPR-3).

NPR-3, located near Midwest, Wyoming, produces oil and 45,000 barrels of 190 degree F water per day from the Tensleep formation and 28,000 barrels of 210 degree F water per day from the Madison formation. The Tensleep hot water was previously treated as a waste stream. Then a test conducted with Ormat Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: ORA), extracted heat from the water to operate a 250-kilowatt generator.

To date, the total produced power from the unit is 1,918 megawatt hours from 10.9 million barrels of co-produced hot water. This on-going test was the first in the world to use the co-produced hot water to generate electricity in an operating oil field and will continue through 2011. There are a large number of oil and gas wells in the United States that produce hot water as well as hydrocarbon products, generally at temperatures below 220° F, which are capable of generating renewable geothermal power.

DOE Releases New Analysis On EV Deployment

DOE also released on Tuesday an analysis of advances in electric vehicle deployment and progress to date in meeting President Obama's goal of putting one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

"One Million Electric Vehicles by 2015" details DOE investments in electric vehicle infrastructure, research and development, and demonstration projects nationwide. These projects include support for nearly 50 manufacturing facilities and demonstration projects.

The Department's analysis of the current market outlook indicates that manufacturers are planning to produce in the range of one million electric vehicles by 2015. Industry-wide, manufacturing capacity is not likely to be the limiting factor in reaching the President's goal, DOES said. As a result, additional policy steps are needed to further drive innovation, reduce costs, and spur consumer demand.

The Obama Administration is proposing a three-part strategy that supports electric vehicle manufacturing and adoption through improvements to tax credits in current law, investments in research and development (R&D), and a new competitive program to encourage communities to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure.

According to the analysis, the combination of these policies will help achieve the President's goal, while creating new clean energy jobs and strengthening U.S. leadership in the growing EV market. 

The analysis is available at the link below (pdf).


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