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CASE HISTORIES OF SMALL SCALE GEOTHERMAL POWER PLANTS ( case-histories-small-scale-geothermal-power-plants )

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CASE HISTORIES OF SMALL SCALE GEOTHERMAL POWER PLANTS Daniel N. Schochet ORMAT International, Inc., Sparks, Nevada, USA KEY WORDS: Power Plants, Small Scale, Rural Power 1. ABSTRACT A large number of rural and remote areas have local geothermal resource areas capable of supporting electrical power generation. Indeed the recent report by the GEA (Gawell et all, 1999) indicates that as many as 39 countries have geothermal resources capable of supplying 100% of these countries needs. Though these geothermal areas may not be connected to the national power grids, with local small- scale geothermal power generation neighboring communities can enjoy the benefits of cost effective and sustainable electricity supply. The current interest in small-scale geothermal power plants for rural local generation and off grid power warrants examining case histories of such small power plants in terms of technology, economic and infrastructure issues. The cases considered herein are: (a) Tad’s Enterprises, Nevada USA, with 2 modules rated at 1.75 MW total; (b) Empire Geothermal, Nevada USA, with 4 modules rated at 4.8 MW total; (c) EGAT Fang Geothermal, Thailand, with one module rated at 300 kW; (d) NAGQU geothermal, Tibet PRC, with one module rated at 1.3 MW and (e) São Miguel Geothermal No.1, Azores, Portugal, with 2 modules rated at 5.5 MW total, and subsequent expansion to 14 MW. In this presentation we have considered the economic, operational and geothermal resource issues. The conclusions are that: (a) small geothermal power projects are technically and economically feasible, with power plant and well utilization technologies that are proven, (b) power costs are acceptable, and (c) most of the problems in developing and operating more such plants relate to availability of financing and maintenance infrastructure. 2. BACKGROUND: Over 200 ORMAT® Energy Converter (OEC) power modules have been installed, ranging in size from 0.3 MW to 6.5 MW, either singly as small power plants or in combination as larger power plants, with an aggregate total of over 600 MW. These binary based power plant modules operate with geothermal fluids at temperatures of 95oC to 315oC. For low temperature fluids from 95oC to 175oC, the modular Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) binary technology, shown schematically in Figure 1, is the most appropriate. In this technology the heat from the flow of the geothermal fluid is transferred to the organic working fluid in a heat exchanger. The working fluid is vaporized and the vapors drive the turbine and the generator. These field proven power units are simple to install and operate, and have near zero environmental impacts. (Elovic 1994) With two phase geothermal steam/brine flow, a binary ORC configuration, which utilizes all the geothermal energy is employed, as shown schematically in Figure 2. In this case the low pressure wet steam is condensed in the vaporizer of the binary ORC system with the brine is used to preheat the working fluid. Again this small scale power conversion technology is field proven. 2201 Figure 1. Process Diagram: Air Cooled Binary Geothermal Power Plant Figure 2. Process Diagram: Two-Phase Binary Geothermal Power Plant For high temperature resources, from 175o to 315o, other than pure dry steam, the ORMAT® Combined Cycle shown in Figure 3 is employed. This process uses a back pressure turbine with the high pressure steam. The wet low pressure steam is condensed in the vaporizer of a binary system ORC, and the brine is used in the process to preheat the organic



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