Joseph Scherer, CEO, GreenFire Energy
GreenFire Energy just announced the completion of the world’s first field-scale demonstration of closed-loop technology that is described in the California Energy Commission publication, Closed-Loop Geothermal Demonstration Project (CEC-300-2020-007) at the Coso, California geothermal area. This significant accomplishment has strong potential to reinvent geothermal energy development in California and other global geothermal regions. I am proud of this accomplishment and its importance to the growth of geothermal energy development. I want to thank the California Energy Commission who provided the bulk of the funding and invaluable support. Thank you also to the Shell GameChanger Program (particularly Dr. Malcolm Ross), the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), J-Power, and our investors who all believed in the Coso project and GreenFire Energy. We are especially grateful to our project hosts Coso Operating Company (particularly its operational head Mr. Chris Ellis) and the U.S. Navy (particularly Dr. Andy Sabin) for their extraordinary on-site support and encouragement.
California Energy Commission’s Role in the Future of Energy
As many of you know, California is recognized worldwide for transitioning its electricity system to clean sources of energy, such as solar, wind, and geothermal. The state has established bold renewable energy goals including the requirement that 60 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable resources, including geothermal, by 2030. Additionally, California has established a 100 percent zero-carbon energy-planning goal by 2045.
The California Energy Commission (CEC) is California’s primary energy policy and planning agency and plays a critical role in creating the clean energy system of the future. The CEC is widely respected for its vison to address climate change. It translates the state’s broad energy goals into policies and projects that have strong potential to develop California’s energy resources. The CEC grant to GreenFire Energy to test closed-loop geothermal technology is just one component of the CEC’s determination to develop California’s extensive geothermal resources. We were honored to be awarded $1.48 million in 2017 from the CEC’s Geothermal Grant and Loan Program to build the first field-scale demonstration of closed-loop geothermal power generation technology.
Potential for Economic Geothermal Development
Revitalizing and expanding geothermal development requires a substantially different technology and a better business model than conventional hydrothermal technology. For example, the project was conducted by retrofitting an existing but unproductive conventional well to produce power potential without the cost of re-drilling. The closed-loop demonstration also proved that GreenFire Energy’s technology works in locations with no subsurface permeability nor large quantities of water. Test results showed promise for large-scale geothermal projects in hot, deep geothermal resources and using water and supercritical CO2 as the working fluid. The project proved that our GreenLoop technology could leverage existing unproductive hydrothermal wells and make them productive.
Equally important, closed-loop geothermal can improve the economics of geothermal development by reducing risk, reducing costs, and accelerating the time-to-results. The demonstration also validated and improved thermodynamic models used to optimize output.
The final report to the CEC concluded that GreenFire Energy’s technology can harness California’s tremendous energy potential and significantly assist the state in meeting its goal for geothermal and renewable energy production. Geothermal resources may provide enough stable power to offset the intermittency of wind and solar power and can provide a clean alternative to expensive battery storage. Closed-loop geothermal can provide secure and resilient power and an environmentally superior alternative form of renewable energy.
The final report to the CEC called Closed-Loop Geothermal Demonstration Project, is available here.