CALGARY: Enbridge Inc. is entering the geothermal business with its up to US$23.8 million investment in a project being developed by US Geothermal Inc.
Enbridge is buying a 20% interest in the 35-megawatt Neal Hot Springs geothermal project in Malheur County, Ore. US Geothermal of Boise, Idaho, will hold the majority 80% and operate the facility.
The Calgary-based energy transporter said the project will deliver electricity to the Idaho Power grid under a 25-year power purchase agreement.
“Enbridge is already heavily involved in renewable and alternative energy projects through our interests in 810 megawatts of wind, solar, waste heat recovery and fuel cell projects,” said Patrick Daniel, Enbridge’s president and CEO in a release. “This investment will be our initial entry into geothermal energy, which we think has an important role to play in North America’s shift toward a greener energy production mix.”
The Neal Hot Springs plant will recover energy that comes from the heat of the earth’s interior putting it through a process that involves pumping hot water from a reservoir in the earth up through production wells.
The water will go through closed circuit heat exchangers that will boil a refrigerant liquid, which is sent through turbines to generate electricity. The hot water will then be injected back into the underground reservoir.
The plant’s annual yield of approximately 191,400 megawatt hours will power 17,500 households while saving about 375,000 tons of CO2 annually compared a similar-sized coal-fired generation facility, or about 163,000 tons compared to natural gas-fired plant.
Construction is underway and the plant is to be in operation by the second quarter of 2012.