Rome, 17 April 2009 Enel Green Power inaugurated two innovative geothermal plants in Churchill County, Nevada. Enel Green Power is the new company of the Enel Group devoted to the development of renewable energy sources in Italy and abroad. The company is the worlds sector leader by generating capacity with 17 billion kWh of electricity from the power of the sun, water, wind and the heat of the earth.
The inauguration was attended by Francesco Starace, President of Enel Green Power, Toni Volpe, Head of North America Area, Enel Renewable Energy Division, Jim Gibbons, Governor of Nevada, John Ensign, U.S. Senator of Nevada and Rebecca Wagner, Commissioner, Public Utility Commission of Nevada.
The two new plants, called Stillwater and Salt Wells, have a total gross installed capacity of 65 MW, which will generate over 400 million kWh of electricity a year, enough to meet the needs of some 40,000 US households and avoid the emission of over 300 thousand tonnes of CO2.
The entry of Stillwater and Salt Wells into service quadruples the amount of electricity generated from geothermal resources by EGP in the United States, thus making a significant contribution to achieving Nevadas goal of generating 20% of its electricity from renewables by 2015.
Stillwater and Salt Wells are medium-enthalpy plants, meaning that they operate at temperatures between 130-150 °C (266-302 °F), using binary cycle technology that employs two fluids: hot water is extracted from the ground and brought into contact with a working fluid (in this case, isobutane) contained in a closed circuit. The working fluid, which is rapidly heated to a very high temperature and pressure, drives the turbines to generate electricity. The geothermal water is returned below ground and the secondary liquid remains within the closed circuit, ensuring no emissions of greenhouse gases or any other negative impacts on the local resources.
"We are proud to be here and share with our friends from Nevada, which is a leader in the use of renewable energy sources, a technology in which we are one of the main players in the world, said Francesco Starace, adding with its century-old experience in Italy, Enel Green Power is today a driver of geothermal power in the United States, with a pipeline of advanced-stage projects with a capacity of 150 MW in this state, as well as in California and Utah.
Stillwater and Salt Wells, on which construction began in 2007, employing more than 300 people, will contribute to Churchill County in terms of energy generation from renewables, but also in economic terms. According to the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), the two new plants will have a positive impact on the area of over 4 million US dollars and will create 25 permanent jobs for the next thirty years.
The economic benefits of these plants to the surrounding communities are significant; said U.S. Senator John Ensign (R-Nev.), who led legislative efforts in the Senate to encourage the development of renewable energy. Churchill County is literally at the center of a green energy hotspot setting an international example for what innovative technology can do for the community and for the state. Enels leadership, expertise and experience will help lead the way for similar communities and projects across the country and around the world.
In Tuscany, Enel Green Power has 31 geothermal plants with a capacity of about 700 MW, capable of generating 5 billion kWh a year. In addition, last year an agreement was reached with the Region for the sustainable development of this valuable resource through the construction of new capacity and major investments in research.
Developed and refined in the Larderello area (Pisa) of Italy, Italian geothermal technology is now being "exported" throughout the world, besides the United States.
In Chile, in agreement with Enap, the national oil agency, Enel Green Power is exploring a number of highly promising areas with a potential capacity of over 100 MW.
In El Salvador, the company built its first geothermal plant abroad, Berlin III, with a capacity of 44 MW and an output of approximately 320 million kWh annually.
Enel is also investing to develop the use of geothermal energy further with the "Innovative Geothermal" project, which seeks to exploit unused fields and to integrate low-temperature geothermal with other renewables, especially solar energy and biomass.