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The United States uses geothermal energy for electrical power generation and for a variety of direct use applications. The most notable developments are The Geysers in northern California, with approximately 900 MWe, and the Imperial Valley of southern California, with 14 MWe being generated, and at Klamath Falls, Oregon and Boise, Idaho, where major district heating projects are under construction. Geothermal development is promoted and undertaken by private companies, public utilities, the federal government, and by state and local governments.
Geothermal drilling activity showed an increase in exploratory and development work over the five previous years, from an average of 61 wells per year to 96 wells for 1980. These 96 wells accounted for 605,175 ft of hole. The completed wells included 18 geothermal wildcat 'discoveries,' 15 wildcat failures, and 5 geopressured geothermal failures, a total of 38 exploratory attempts. The successful wildcats accounted for 96,924 ft of hole at an average total depth of 5,385 ft per well, representing a success ratio of 47.4%. California, which had the highest total of completed geothermal wells at 83, also had 43 successful geothermal development wells; most of these were in The Geysers. Of the total of 58 geothermal development wells attempted, 55 were considered capable of production am unting to a success ratio of 94.8%. A total of 329,854 ft of hole was cut for the 55 potential producers, with an average total depth of 5,997 ft per well.
During 1980, two new power plants were put on line at The Geysers, increasing by 37% the total net generating capacity to over 900 MWe. PG & E's unit 13 went on line in April using steam provided by Aminoil USA to operate a 135 MWe plant. PG & E's new 110-MWe unit 14, supplied by steam produced by Union Oil Company, went on line in September.
Two power plants commenced production in the Imperial Valley in 1980. Southern California Edison started up a 10-MWe flash steam unit at the Brawley geothermal field in June. Steam is supplied by the Union Oil Company. After an intermittent beginning, Imperial Magma's pilot binary cycle, 11-MWe unit went on line on a continuous basis, producing 7 MWe of power. Hot water is supplied to the plant by Imperial Magma's wells.
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