Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said today that the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a major grant to Chena Power to prove the feasibility of generating electricity from the hot water that comes from oil and gas during the production process.
Murkowski’s office said the grant to Chena Power, which is a subsidiary of Chena Hot Springs Resort northeast of Fairbanks, could have “major implications for geothermal energy development nationwide since there are thousands of working oil and gas wells” in a dozen states that “generate enough geothermal water to possibly produce 5,000 megawatts of clean, renewable energy to add to the nation’s electricity portfolio.”
“This is an important project for Alaska since Alaska’s oil fields on the North Slope and Cook Inlet produce more than 1.2 million barrels of water each day. This is water that is often below the boiling point, but often hot enough utilizing the new technology being pioneered at Chena Hot Springs to produce geothermal electricity. Using the water that today is just a waste product of oil and gas production can save energy in fossil fuel production and could add clean electricity to our nation’s power grid. It is an important project for the nation and the state,” Murkowski said in the Oct. 15 press release. The senator has been seeking a variety of grant aid from the federal government to advance geothermal development, her office said.
The grant “builds on the success of Chena Hot Springs and its owner Bernie Karl who in 2005 won federal aid to tap the resort’s lower-temperature geothermal resources to produce power. Using a new binary organic rankine cycle power plant (turbine) created by United Technologies Corp., the Chena resort has been producing all of its electricity needs from roughly 160-degree water (F) for the past year,” Murkowski’s office said.
The $724,000 federal grant, being matched by funds from Chena Power, United Technology and BP, which will “fund a $1.45 million effort to modify the low-temperature geothermal turbine system developed at Chena to work on the water” generated from Prudhoe Bay oil wells.
The senator’s office said the power generated from the project will be used “to power the oil field, replacing a small portion of the 162 megawatts of electricity now generated by the field’s natural gas-fired turbines.”
Editor’s note: Watch for full story in the Oct. 21 issue of Petroleum News