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Clean Energy

Geothermal

 

Geothermal energy taps volcanic heat to make electricity


Geothermal energy comes from volcanic heat stored beneath the earth's surface. Underground reservoirs of water heated by volcanic activity can be tapped for steam to generate electricity.  On Hawaii Island, Puna Geothermal Venture operates an advanced binary-cycle power plant.  The heat from hot water in a heat exchanger generates vapor from a working fluid with a low-boiling point.  This vapor drives a turbine to produce electricity.  The water, which never comes in contact with the working fluid, is then injected back into the ground to be reheated.
 

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Current Geothermal Contributions
  

 •  Hawaii Electric Light Company on Hawaii Island purchases 30 MW of power from the Puna Geothermal Venture plant and has signed a power purchase agreement to buy another 8 MW from an expansion of the plant.  PGV has permits allowing it to expand another 22 MW in the future at its current location.  Learn more about Puna Geothermal Venture.
 
 •  Possible geothermal energy resources are being explored in West Hawaii and on the island of Maui.
 
In June 2010, the Hawaii State Legislature established a Geothermal Energy Working Group to develop a feasibility and cost-benefit analysis for new development of geothermal, including an analysis of community, environmental and economic benefits.  Hawaii Electric Light Company participated in the working group with diverse other Hawaii Island representatives of business and labor.  A report is expected to be delivered to the 2012 Hawaii State Legislature.
 
 •  In June 2011, Hawaii Electric Light Company issued a Request for Information seeking to determine the best way to pursue geothermal power development on Hawaii Island. The utility sought input from stakeholders including potential geothermal developers and interested landowners on next steps that take into account the renewable energy goals and clean energy policy of Hawaii within the state’s unique community, cultural, historical, and environmental context. The call for information yielded about 20 responses from a variety of stakeholders that are now being analyzed.
 
 •  Oahu is believed to have no geothermal resources that could be tapped for electricity.
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Historical Contributions to Geothermal Energy
 

 
  For eight years, Hawaii Electric Light Company operated the Hawaii Geothermal Energy Project-Wellsite A, a 3-megawatt power plant.
 
 •  Hawaiian Electric Company led a multi-year research project that proved the technical feasibility of transmitting geothermal electricity from the Big Island to Oahu.  However, the project never went forward due to high costs and possible environmental impacts related to the project while oil prices remained relatively low.


Learn more about geothermal energy in use on Hawaii Island

 

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Geothermal energy taps volcanic heat to make electricity

Current Geothermal Contributions

Historical Contributions to Geothermal Energy