25 MW More Geothermal For Hawaii’s Big Island

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Twenty-five megawatts of geothermal energy will be added to the existing 38 MW produced by a plant on the Big Island. Hawaii Electric Light Co. chose Ormat Technologies Inc. to develop the extra geothermal energy. Ormat has fifty years of geothermal development experience and is based in Nevada.


“We have continued to pursue ways to increase our use of renewable energy and lower costs to our customers, while also ensuring reliable service. Ormat was selected based on numerous criteria, including attractive pricing, technical design and capability, financial soundness, as well as commitment to resolving all environmental issues and to working with our Hawaii Island communities,” explained Jay Ignacio, president of HELCO.

Renewable sources like hydropower, geothermal wind and solar already generate almost half of the Big Island’s electricity.

Hot brine and steam are brought up by the plant, and the steam is with a turbine generator to make electricity. Fluids that are brought to the surface and used are then injected back into the deep ground, so there are no emissions.

Ormat acquired the Puna power plant in 2004, and has increased its output. Electricity generated by it is sold to HELCO. Puna is located in the eastern part of the island.

Geothermal provides consistent electricity that integrates well with other renewables like solar and wind because it balances out their intermittency.

HELCO has targeted 92% renewable energy by 2030. Expanding geothermal is a good step in this direction, because it is a proven renewable energy technology there, and it is also stable.

Hawaii’s Governor Ambercrombie has said he supports geothermal, “If there is anything on Earth, or in Earth, that says to us as a species, as stewards of this planet, that here is a resource for your utilization and for your proper regard, and to be a steward of, it’s geothermal. And the Big Island could not be better situated for it.”

Public support for geothermal from a governor is not the most common expression, so it’s remarkable that he has spoken out about it.

An appointee to the state’s Geothermal Working Group said, “This island could run on geothermal easily. To me, geothermal is a no-brainer.”

Image Credit: Big Island by NASA/NOAA via Wikimedia Commons

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Jake Richardson

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JakeRsol

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8 thoughts on “25 MW More Geothermal For Hawaii’s Big Island

  • Between solar, wind, hydropower, pumped-hydro, and geothermal . . . Hawaii really shouldn’t need to burn fossil fuels.

    • They show be at %100 clean electric by 2025. Using geothermal, wind and solar gets you there. Allow all the rooftop solar with batteries people want to put in and they might be able to be %100 by 2020, that’s 5 years.

    • Does Oahu, where most people live, have geothermal resources? The islands aren’t a single grid.

      • I’m sure its not nearly as good. The big island is closest to the volcanic hotspot. As you go north volcanic activity drops to zero (I’m not sure how quickly). Also the population density is much higher. The one plus for geothermal firther from the volcanoes, is not worrying about your facility being overrun by lava (which I think could happen just about anywhere on the big island).

        • You do realize that you do not need volcanic regions to gain access to Geothermal energy, right?
          With drills made from synthetic diamonds and combining them with lasers, you can just DIG deep enough for geothermal anywhere on the planet.
          Its really not a problem.

          As for any geothermal facility being overrun by lava… not a problem either.
          Lava’s usual temperatures are between 800 and 1100 degrees C.
          Diamonds have a melting point of just over 3500 degrees C.
          The facility can be designed from synthetic diamonds (which we have been producing since the 1950-ies) in thin sheet form combined with other superior elements such as graphene and carbon nanotubes (though honestly, synthetic diamonds is all you would need).

          Heck with those materials, we can easily just use lava itself for electricity and heat production

  • While addg 25MW to 38MW existing is nice, it is a small drop in the bucket to what HA could have. Unless the issue is that it is just too hot, and all your drill hole fill in with rock that is in a plastic state. Darn devil in the details.

  • But why Ormat and Binary Technology? I thought the resources on the Island are categorized as high temperature. Can anyone give me feedback on this? Must be a valid reason. Flash technology is much cheaper and more efficient compared to binary solution if you have hight temperature (high enthalpy)

    • Fluids that are brought to the surface and used are then injected back into the deep ground, so there are no emissions.

Comments are closed.