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|The Blue Mountain ‘Faulkner 1’ Geothermal Plant: Power from the Earth.|
|Nevada Geothermal Power|
Power from beneath the earth’s surface will soon light up Nevada, thanks to Nevada Geothermal Power’s Blue Mountain ‘Faulkner 1’ geothermal plant. The plant, recently completed and now in the commissioning stage, will deliver about 30 megawatts of power to the Sierra Pacific Power Company’s grid, with plans to increase that to at least 40 MW (net) in the near future.
Mechanical, electrical, and metering systems have been installed for three Energy Convertors, and the cooling tower, control building, fire protection, safety systems, and site grading are all ready for operation.
Once commissioning is complete — expected by the end of September, 2009 — NGP will begin work on two additional wells that should increase sustainable output to 40 MW. Then, in 2010, NGP will search for additional potential within the 17 square mile leased area.
Brian Fairbank, President & CEO of Nevada Geothermal Power, commented, “NGP has achieved an enormous milestone with the completion of the construction of the 49.5 MW Blue Mountain ‘Faulkner 1’ power plant. Our experienced management team, industry relationships, planned additional development projects and future new acquisitions will enable NGP to embark on an exciting program of scalable growth.”
Getting this power to the people is itself no small feat and required that NGP construct a 21-mile long power line interconnection between the Blue Mountain site and the state electrical transmission grid, as well as a microwave communication system. That new power line was energized on August 3rd.
The Blue Mountain project is termed a “Binary Cycle Geothermal Plant.” This means that hot geothermal fluid pumped from as far below the earth’s surface as 4,000 to 8,000 feet is used to vaporize a secondary fluid that has a lower boiling point. That fluid is used to drive turbines that generate electricity. The primary geothermal fluid is pumped back into the earth, while the secondary fluid is cooled with water itself cooled in large cooling towers. The result is a clean, closed-loop system.
Plants such as this typically require less land than comparable installations like nuclear and coal-fired plants, and produce far less CO2 emissions. Any carbon dioxide or other gases that rise with the steam are injected back into the ground.