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Las Vegas–based Bombard Renewable Energy was the general contractor for the solar project. In the geothermal plant’s binary system, hot water from underground wells heats isobutane and causes it to flash into vapor, which then turns the turbines to generate electricity.
He explained that the facility uses the system because of the moderate temperature of the nearby geothermal reservoir.
“It also helped that Enel Green Power was finishing construction of its pilot project in Italy integrating a solar thermal system to boost efficiency of a combined cycle natural gas power plant.” EGP NA employs approximately 50 staff members in the state of Nevada.
The company has roughly 30 employees who operate and maintain the Stillwater Solar Geothermal Hybrid Plant and EGP NA’s Salt Wells Geothermal Plant (which also became operational in Nevada in 2009).
“It has to be said that since this geothermal-solar project is a first of its kind, it met the regular challenges of everything new in terms of combining two advanced technologies, as well as challenges of a regulatory and administrative nature,” Venturini said.
This innovative hybrid power plant demonstrates that the strengths of these different renewable technologies combine to create a better whole.
Combining geothermal and solar energy at the Stillwater plant also makes it possible to use the same infrastructure, further reducing environmental impacts.