Back in 2009, as part of Obamas goal to expand domestic renewable energy sources, the Stillwater geothermal power plant was built in Fallon, Nevada, one of several areas in Utah and Nevada identified for geothermal development.
Initially the plant had a generation capacity of 33 MW, but just recently Enel Green Power, the renewable energy arm of the Italian, Enel Group, constructed 89,000 polycrystalline photovoltaic panels at the site adding an extra 26 MW of solar generating capacity.
Stillwater is now the world’s first ever geothermal-solar power plant, with a combined capacity of 59 MW it provides enough clean, renewable energy to power 50,000 local homes. The solar panels alone will generate over 43 million kilowatt-hours each year, enough to power 16,000 homes, and reduce carbon emissions in the area by 30,000 metric tonnes each year.
Solar Panels can provide cheap, clean, renewable electricity, but the power levels are intermittent due to the weather. Some days the sun may shine much more than others, and obviously at night the PV cells are useless. This is where the geothermal element helps; it can cover for the dips in solar generated electricity and help grid operators by providing a continuous power supply.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that, “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.”
Developing Stillwater into a combined geothermal and solar plant is estimated to have created 75,000 jobs and added $44 billion to the economy.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com