The Cove Fort geothermal power plant is a model for the protection of plants and wildlife. Built in Utah in the USA and inaugurated by Enel Green Power North America in 2013, it is equipped with cutting-edge measures that protect the environment of the vast area that surrounds the facility.
Cove Fort is binary cycle mid-enthalpy facility with five production wells and three re-injection wells and an installed capacity of 25 megawatts. It can generate up to 160 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, while creating an extremely low level of greenhouse gas emissions. From a technical point of view it is similar to other plants that have been built over the last few years in the United States, but its care for the environment makes it unique.
The plant was built on private land, but the geothermal wells and pipelines are placed on federal land, meaning that particular environmental protection measures are required under US law: for instance, it must be ensured that neither endangered flower species nor sites of archaeological interest are found in the immediate area around the plant.
'This is why we went into the field with natural historians and archaeologists,' explained EGP NA's Environmental Manager for the West Coast Daren Daters. 'We worked together with the Bureau of Land Management and the US Fish and Wildlife Service in order to keep the authorities informed on both the presence of birds and on the measures that we put in place to avoid any negative impact on the area.'
In order to avoid interfering with the movement of animals, eight paths were built for use by local wildlife like deer and elk. Measures have also been taken for the protection and safeguarding of birds, in particular local species such as eagles and red-tailed hawks.
The analyses performed on the land before building the plant have made it possible to ensure that local bird species have been protected since the first stone was laid, with EGP planning construction around their seasonal cycles. When a red-tailed hawk was seen nesting near the area of the geothermal well, construction works were stripped back for about three months, until the young hawks were able to fly away.