In 2009, the world’s largest geothermal developer, Ormat, moved into the solar market – using its power plant construction expertise to build solar PV and CSP plants in Israel.
And in the last couple of years, a number of CSP developers have partnered with natural gas and coal operators to create hybrid solar/fossil plants in an effort to lower the installed cost of solar and make fossil generation more efficient.
It was only a matter of time before we saw the hybrid geothermal-solar plant.
A group of business and policy leaders were in Las Vegas at the National Clean Energy Summit this morning announcing the groundbreaking of the world’s first solar-geothermal power plant – a 24-MW facility that will combine 80,000 polycrystalline PV modules with traditional hydrothermal technology.
One of the largest power plant developers in the world, Enel, is building the project. The company decided to go with PV because of the cost competitiveness of the technology. But Enel is also in the early stages of developing a similar hybrid Concentrating Solar Power-Geothermal “test plant” in the same location.
“All these things are going to be necessary as we move into renewables,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu, speaking at the press conference. “This is an incredible new technology that can be used across the country.”
Secretary Chu was joined by Nevada Senator Harry Reid, Center for American Progress CEO John Podesta, Enel Green Power’s Francesco Venturini, and Bombard Renewable Energy’s Chris Brooks.
The speakers focused heavily on the jobs issue – explaining the importance of consistent federal policy in helping grow jobs in this emerging sector. At the peak of construction, this solar-geothermal plant will create 250 jobs.
“We have the opportunity to lead the world in this market,” explained Secretary Chu.
Senator Reid decried the continued uncertainty on the federal level, explaining that Democrats will make an increased push for clean energy in the fall.
“This is a debate we can win publicly. This is an energy revolution that other countries have embraced with arms wide open,” said Reid.
The National Clean Energy Summit will be streaming speeches and roundtables on clean energy policy and technologies. Check out the NCES 4.0 website to see this morning’s speeches from Secretary Chu, Senator Reid, Vice President Biden and more. We’ll be speaking to a number of leaders at the summit, so look out for more interviews.