AltaRock Energy is working on a project involving new technology, techniques, and advanced monitoring protocols for the purpose of testing the feasibility and viability of enhanced geothermal systems for renewable energy production.
The project area is 22 miles south of Bend, Oregon, within the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest. The entire project is located on National Forest System Lands and would utilize an existing well pad and existing 10,000-ft deep geothermal well on a Federal geothermal lease. This geothermal project will enable the AltaRock Energy to create, test, and demonstrate the Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) reservoir technology and its potential for electricity generation in areas with underground heat but little or no natural water. The EGS projects produce electricity using heat extracted with engineered fluid flow paths in hot rocks. These pathways are developed by stimulating them with cold water injected into a well at a relatively high pressure.
Development and testing of the EGS will involve several components, including the development of an underground reservoir, one “stimulation” well to help create the reservoir and transport water to it, two production wells to transport heated water out of the reservoir, and an array of up to 20 surface and “down-hole” seismic monitoring devices.
Eleven of the monitoring sites are on Federal geothermal leases administered by the BLM, and nine are on lands that are administered by the U.S. Forest Service, including one surface micro-seismic monitoring station and a motion sensor installed in the Newberry National Monument.
The United States leads the world in electricity generation with geothermal power. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that in 2012, U.S geothermal power plants produced about 17 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), or 0.4% of total U.S. electricity generation. Six states had geothermal power plants: California had 36 plants producing about 80% of the Nation's geothermal-produced electricity; Nevada had 21 plants producing about 16% of the Nation's geothermal-produced electricity; Utah had two plants; and Hawaii, Idaho, and Oregon each had one plant. Geothermal energy is also used directly for space and water heating applications.
The Geothermal Steam Act of 1970, as amended (84 Stat, 1566; 30 U.S.C. 1001-1025), provides the Secretary of the Interior with the authority to lease public lands (245 million acres) and other federal lands, including National Forest lands (193 million acres), for geothermal exploration and development in an environmentally sound manner. This authority has been delegated to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Leases are required to explore for or develop geothermal resources on public lands. Leasing requirements are described in the 43 CFR 3200 Geothermal Leasing Regulations.
As of June 5, 2013 there were 78 federal geothermal leases encompassing 102,484 acres in Oregon, a 2% acreage decrease since May 2012, and four leases encompassing 8,436 acres in Washington representing no change over the same period. There have also been 15 parcels nominated for leasing, 6 in Oregon (11,452 acres) and 9 in Washington (35,480 acres). Three of these are on BLM land; the remaining 12 are on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land.
Specific project and location information for OR/WA can be found at this website: www.blm.gov/or/energy.