There are currently three high-volume, low-heat geothermal energy plans in the world. These are located in Japan, Germany, and Iceland. By the end of 2013, if all goes according to plan, there may be a fourth plant, located in the Klamath Basin which spans parts of California and Oregon.
In mid-November, two potential plant locations were chosen in the Basin: Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and private land owned by Klamath Basin farmer and president of Entiv Organic Energy, Mike Noonan. In fact, regardless of the final choice, Entiv hopes to pursue and foster geothermal projects in the Basin.
The French company, Technip, originally created the geothermal technology. Subsurface water was discovered after wells were dug as a response to the 2001 water shut-off. The discovered subsurface water was too warm for wetlands and irrigation and too cold for traditional geothermal energy production. The water’s temperature seemed to hover between 190 and 250 degrees.
In order to preserve the wetlands, the Klamath Basin needs moving water, a commodity that has risen considerably in cost. Moving an acre foot of water used to cost 33 cents and now the same acre foot of water costs $9.23 to move. This translates into higher barriers for refuge water transport. The refuge has the plumbing and method for transport, all it needs is the water, but the water is expensive.
If it’s built, the new geothermal plant will lower water rates for both agriculture and the wildlife refuge. Noonan has stated that Entiv has paid all its bills and has not cost taxpayers a dime. Since the water is sent back underground, there has been no consumptive use of water. Entiv is optimistic that this project will yield a 10 megawatt capacity.