World’s first triple geo-PV-solar thermal power plant unveiled in Nevada

The ribbon-cutting ceremony of the world’s first triple hybrid power plant featuring Nevada’s governor and Italy’s Prime Minister took place yesterday in Fallon, Nevada.

Stillwater 2 Geothermal Plant, owned by Enel Green Power North America, began providing energy for NV Energy utility back in 2009. In 2011, the Italy-based Enel first announced its plans to equip the 33 MW geothermal plant in Nevada with 89,000 PV panels to compensate for the reduction in output due to high temperatures during summer midday hours.

In May 2012, the U.S. Energy Department recognized the dedication of the Stillwater geothermal project, which received $40 million in tax support under the Recovery Act. The new hybrid geothermal-solar power plant began operating at the end of the last year.

Today Stillwater plant has a total capacity of 61 MW, including 33 MW of the original baseload geothermal, 26 MW of solar PV and 2 MW of solar thermal power generation. 2 MW solar thermal power plant was added to the facility in 2015. It is expected to extend the life of the geothermal reservoir used for the power generation.

"The lessons we are learning at this advanced geothermal-solar facility will be key to the development of other hybrid plants throughout the world," Enel’s CEO Francesco Starace said at the ceremony yesterday.

The PV element of the plant is expected to generate 40 GWh annually, enough to meet the power needs of 15,000 American households and cut CO2 emissions by more than 28,000 tons each year.

Marin Keller, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, who also attended the inauguration ceremony in Nevada, said that the cutting-edge technology is one of the "underpinnings of the future of clean energy", and can help the U.S. government meet the goals outlined at the Paris climate talks in November last year.

In 2014, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory conducted research on the economic benefits of combining geothermal and solar thermal systems, using operating data from Stillwater hybrid plant. Modeled results achieved a 5% reduction in the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) by geothermal and solar power generation.