Third renewable technology added to Fallon-area facility
A renewable-energy plant near Fallon drew international attention a couple of years ago when its owner became the first to combine geothermal with photovoltaic solar generation.
Now Enel Green Power North America is taking the combination a step further with the addition of solar panels to raise the temperature of geothermal fluids.
The company said last week it’s started a $15 million project to add thermodynamic solar systems to the Stillwater Hybrid Power Plant in Churchill County.
About 28,000 square feet of parabolic mirrors will be the centerpiece of the solar addition.
They will concentrate the sun’s rays and use the solar energy to heat tubes filled with demineralized water.
The solar-heated water, in turn, will help boost the temperature of the fluids extracted from the geothermal wells. And hotter geothermal fluids will increase the output of electricity from the Stillwater plant.
The existing geothermal plant came on line in 1999 and has capacity to produce 33 megawatts of power. Enel Green Power said the additional solar thermodynamic facility will add three million kilowatt-hours a year to the plant’s production. It’s set for completion late this year.
The company sells the power to NV Energy under a 20-year contract.
The combination of geothermal and solar allows the plant to meet baseline demand from power consumers through the geothermal generation while the solar plant meets peak demand during daytime hours, Enel executives said in a statement.
In 2012, Enel took the pioneering step of adding photovoltaic solar generation to the geothermal site. The combination has been recognized by numerous utility and engineering groups as a breakthrough in green-energy technology.
Enel Green Power North America, a unit of Italy’s Enel Group, says combination of renewable facilities at one site allows it spread the cost of expensive transmission lines and other infrastructure over larger projects.
Bryan Wachter of the Retail Association of Nevada said his organization is “very concerned about disruptions to the supply chain.”