The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Can Gigawatts of Geothermal Save the Salton Sea?

Famously known for its rise and fall as a resort destination in the 50s and 60s, The Salton Sea area in California has struggled to find support for revitalization efforts. After all, the lake’s high salinity makes it nearly impossible for sea life to prosper, and as water levels continue to diminish, the exposed sea floor further contaminates the arid, stale air. However, there is one industry that is eager to take advantage of what seemingly little the area has to offer — geothermal. Under the surface of that toxic seabed are thousands of megawatts of potential.

The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has had its eye on the area for some time, and today announced that it has joined forces with the Imperial Irrigation District  (IID) to support renewable energy development in the region. 

The district has more than 2,900 MW of geothermal resource potential, and as the sea continues to recede, the potential grows, according to a recent report released by the GEA.  The IID believes these resources can be developed incrementally by 2032. “Not only is there more geothermal generating capacity in the Imperial Valley than anywhere else in the U.S., but geothermal energy can be produced with minimal impact on landscape and habitat,” according to the IID. Of course, as is the usual story when it comes to geothermal development, there are some barriers to overcome first. 

Credit: Geothermal Energy Association

The major problem to overcome is lack of transmission. Since the Salton Sea is fairly isolated, the IID estimates about 150 miles of transmission line is necessary. “[Transmission] has always been the problem with the Imperial Valley,” said GEA executive director Karl Gawell. “Our problem isn’t getting power from Wyoming to California — we can't get power from California to California.”

According to the IID, new transmission can be built at about $2-4 million per mile. The cost of the new transmission line could be recovered under California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) Transmission Revenue Requirement (TRR), however “the process for developing a transmission line of this size would require some certainty as to cost recovery through approved rates,” according to the GEA report.

Several other barriers to development include lengthier permitting process due to the delicate, changing environment, lack of power purchase agreements and weak demand. However, the geothermal industry is hopeful that the state will come to truly recognize the technology’s reliable baseload potential and consider it an important piece of its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). And with California’s nearby San Onofre nuclear plant offline and several coal plants nearing retirement, Gawell believes this is the perfect time to shine a light on geothermal's baseload clean energy resource potential.

If and when these barriers are overcome, geothermal has much to offer the long-suffering community. Not only will project development create thousands of construction and permanent jobs, it will also provide stable, affordable power and aid in the area’s environmental restoration and conservation. According to the IID, the “the Salton Sea Restoration & Renewable Energy Initiative…will leverage funds generated by new renewable energy projects located at the sea to help finance activities for air quality management and habitat restoration.” Geothermal development will also reduce the amount of toxins released by the exposed seabed, thereby improving the area’s air quality.

“IID moving forward with this big new initiative for geothermal as part of the Salton Sea Restoration effort is really exciting to a lot of people because it could also open up the Salton Sea economy by helping build transmission that is desperately needed in the Imperial Valley,” said Gawell. “Not only will they get more geothermal, but they will be addressing a huge environmental problem that Southern California has been dealing with for decades. If they are successful it could really change the game in California.” 

Untitled Document

RELATED ARTICLES

States Already Seek To Delay Clean Power Plan

Andrew Harris, Bloomberg Fifteen states led by coal-rich West Virginia asked a federal court to stall Obama administration rules intended to c...

Global Renewable Energy Roundup: China, Kenya, Turkey, India Seeking More Renewables

Bloomberg News Editors China is being encouraged by three industry groups to double the nation’s solar-power goal for 2020 to make up for sh...

With Vast Amounts of Geothermal, Wind and Hydropower, Why No Solar In New Zealand?

James Ellsmoor, Contributor New Zealand has built an international brand on environmentalism and the great outdoors. So it is unsurprising that t...

Don’t Like Obama’s Clean Power Plan? Fine, Here’s Cap and Trade

Mark Drajem and Lynn Doan, Bloomberg Republican governors who boycott the Obama administration’s new power-plant regulations may instead get an offer they...

PRESS RELEASES

Free ImagineSolar Online Course Demonstration

ImagineSolar will be holding another live demonstration of PV250e: Solar PV Economics a...

Canadian Solar Announces Partnership in 200 MW Tranquility Solar Power Project

Recurrent Energy signed an agreement with Southern Power to partner on the Tranquility ...

AWS Truepower Announces Major Expansion of its Due Diligence Team in Response to Growing Market Demand

AWS Truepower, an international leader in wind and solar energy consulting and engineer...

FEATURED BLOGS

NATiVE Recognized for Excellence at 2015 Greater Austin Business Awards

NATiVE Recognized for Excellence at 2015 Greater Austin Business Awards NEWS RELEASE AUSTIN, Texas – Aug. 27...

Solar Energy Means Jobs, Savings, and a Low-Cost Future [infographic]

There are a lot of utility-sponsored legislative and regulatory attacks on solar energy lately, and we put together t...

How To Get People To Do Stuff

It’s no secret that psychology and sales go hand in hand. If you understand the principles of human psychology ...

FINANCIAL NEWS

As associate editor of RenewableEnergyWorld.com, I coordinate and edit feature stories, contributed articles, news stories, opinion pieces and blogs. I also research and write content for RenewableEnergyWorld.com and REW magazine. I manage REW.com...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 4
1507REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

GRC Workshop at Indonesian International Geothermal Convention & Ex...

The Geothermal Conceptual Model & Well Targeting The Geothermal Me...

2015 AREDAY Summit

The 12th Annual AREDAY Summit, August 8-13th in Snowmass Colorado. Engag...

StartUp Green

AREI, American Renewable Energy Institute, in partnership with ...

COMPANY BLOGS

Clean Energy Patents Maintain High Levels in First Quarter, Solar L...

U.S. patents for Clean Energy technologies from the first quarter of 201...

Registration Opens for GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Expo:   Register Now for the 2015 GRC ...

New Approach to Crowdfunding Renewable Energy Assets

In our business, our goal is to help people improve their quality of lif...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS