Hybrid solar PV-geothermal power plant online in Nevada

A unique hybrid geothermal-solar photovoltaics (PV) plant is now producing power in Churchill County, Nevada. Although Nevada is home to a number of geothermal power plants, the hybrid Stillwater plant is the first anywhere in the world to set up the two technologies side-by-side.

The combined peak capacity of the plant is 59 megawatts (MW)–with the 89,000 monocrystalline solar PV panel array supplying up to 26MW. The solar panel array, located on a lot adjacent to the geothermal (earth-heat) facility, will provide an additional boost to the plant’s ordinary generation during peak hours when the sun is shining. There are a number of benefits to the technology, such as its capacity to raise production when geothermal production is at its lowest, its ability to deliver more power during peak hours, its ability to more closely follow the energy load profile, plus the cost savings that result from shared infrastructure, including transmission interconnection.

Regardless of the semantics whether the it is a bona fide ‘hybrid’ as opposed to two independent generation facilities located side by side, the Stillwater plant is a great example of how local resources can be effectively harnessed to produce power for local use. Furthermore, Stillwater’s power production is renewable and largely emissions-free.

American Energy Secretary Stephen Chu said in a press release, “As the first of its kind in the world, this project demonstrates how we can tap renewable energy sources to provide clean power for American families and businesses and deploy every available source of American energy. Supported in part by the Recovery Act, the Fallon facility is expanding domestic renewable energy sources and helping to build the infrastructure we need to stay competitive in the global race for clean energy technologies.”

Top image via Inhabitat

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James Martin II