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