Next-generation California geothermal pilot projects receive approval

A Sunshine State utility company has approved three bids to develop geothermal projects from major industry leaders.

California public power provider Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) announced in late February it would be reviewing bids from Eavor Technologies Inc, Chevron New Energiesm and Cyrq Energy to develop a large geothermal hotspot in the northwest of the state.

The cooperation agreements were initially reviewed on February 16, by SCP’s Community Advisory Board, which recommended board approval for the agreements. On March 2, SCP’s board of directors released a staff report stating all three project bids have been approved to execute their proposed geothermal projects.

In 2021, SCP released an initial request to determine the level of interest in building 500MW of geothermal power in the Geozone known locally as The Geysers. According to ThinkGeoEnergy coverage, Eavor, Chevron, and Cyrq submitted cooperation agreements for 20MW demonstration projects with the potential for a production scale increase of up to 200MW.

Map of Geothermal Opportunity Zone, GeoZone (source: Sonoma Clean Power RFI)

SCP is also in the running for up to $50 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy. The grant amount ranges from $4 million to $50 million dollars, and if approved, could significantly reduce construction costs paid for by SCP customers.

Geof Syphers, SCP CEO, anticipates this funding will fall somewhere in the middle, but was quoted in the North Bay Business Journal, saying “if we get a larger grant, the larger system could be built and there would be market-rate (power) on more of it.”

Both Eavor and Chevron’s projects will deploy next-generation closed-loop geothermal technology, and Cyrq Energy’s pilot project will feature both geothermal and solar energy technologies.

Currently, there are 18 geothermal plants at The Geysers Geozone, producing around 700MW of power. If all three demonstration projects are successful, up to 600MW will be added to California’s geothermal generation, already the leading state in geothermal energy production.

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