March 7, 2008 Raser Technologies has committed to two new geothermal projects, bringing its total project count to seven and representing 70-75 megawatts (MW) of power projects initiated since April 2007.
Geothermal power is a clean and renewable alternative energy created from steam turbine generators, without burning fossil fuels.
The two additional projects include a second 10MW plant in Utah and a first 10MW facility in Oregon. Currently Raser is also in developing three projects in Nevada, two in Utah, one in New Mexico and one in Oregon. The large number of projects is part of Raser’s plan, announced in 2007, to initiate 100MW of projects per year over the next three years and then 150 MW per year for each year thereafter. The company has been short-listed for a 10MW power purchase agreement with a Southern California utility for delivery of power in 2009. Raser is also currently in various stages of negotiations with several utilities with respect to agreements to purchase a total of 140MW of power.
Raser holds license rights to several key technologies used in geothermal and other heat transfer based power generation including two proprietary technologies for more efficient heat transfer and waste heat recovery that have the potential to improve geothermal and other electric power generation efficiencies by up to 30% or more.
Geothermal works using natural steam from production wells to power turbine generators. The steam is condensed by evaporation in cooling towers and pumped down injection wells to sustain production. Like all steam turbine generators, the force of steam is used to spin the turbine blades which spin the generator, producing electricity. The advantage geothermal energy has is that no fuels are required for burning during the process.
There are three types of geothermal plants: dry steam, uses steam (and no water) that shoots up wells and is passed through a rock catcher; flash steam, releases hot water from the pressure of a deep reservoir in a flash tank; and binary cycle, uses the heat from geothermal water to vaporize a "working fluid" in separate adjacent pipes. The clean nature of the plants make them compatible for construction and operation in sensitive environments such as in crop fields, forest recreation areas, fragile deserts and tropical rain forests.
As an alternative energy source, geothermal is still an emerging technology and, like solar plants, facilities range on average from 5-15MW of output. In comparison, the average coal plant has an output of anywhere from 1000-5000MW and the average nuclear plant from 600-1200MW, so these alternative energies still have a way to go.