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Allow Us to Introduce Ourselves: AltaRock Energy, Inc.

June 1, 2016

Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Seattle, AltaRock Energy is a full-service geothermal energy technology and services company. Our team includes industry experts that specialize in geology, geochemistry, hydrology, engineering, operations, management, and finance. We’ve been working on geothermal research at Newberry since 2010, and are excited to be a part of the NEWGEN FORGE Consortium!

snow day ARE Team

The AltaRock team poses for a picture on a cold, winter day in December 2012 on a well pad at the Newberry Volcano site. 

Newberry EGS Demonstration

AltaRock managed the Newberry EGS Demonstration from 2010-2015, successfully performing a stimulation at a geothermal well drilled in 2008. Project accomplishments included a gold-standard monitoring plan for induced seismicity at geothermal sites, an excellent record of environmental monitoring and protection, and successful community engagement to build support for geothermal energy research and development in Central Oregon.

A number of technical scientific papers were published over the course of the Newberry EGS Demonstration, and can be found here.

Geothermal Projects in the U.S. and Abroad

AltaRock has worked on geothermal projects in Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Utah, and other states. These projects include greenfield assessment for geothermal resources, well stimulations, wellfield and reservoir management, power plant optimization, and full project management. AltaRock owns and operates the Faulkner I geothermal power plant at Blue Mountain, NV.

Our international experience includes a well stimulation in the volcanic province of Mexico, and design of an EGS project in southern Hungary.

What We Bring to NEWGEN FORGE

The AltaRock team will leverage the experience gained during the Newberry EGS demonstration and other well stimulations worldwide to contribute to a FORGE research and development plan designed to improve the economics of both EGS and conventional geothermal projects. With one foot in geothermal research and another in the geothermal industry, AltaRock understands the challenge that disruptive technology has crossing the chasm to widespread adoption and impact. Along with other industrial NEWGEN partners, we will be able to help technology developed at NEWGEN FORGE reach its potential as the future of geothermal energy. We will continue to promote research and development breakthroughs by regularly publishing in scientific journals and giving presentations at scientific conferences. Locally, we promote community support for geothermal energy through outreach activities at schools, festivals, and community meetings.

What I Presented at the Oregon Geothermal Working Group

May 17, 2016

The NEWGEN team is busy, busy, busy preparing the proposal for the latest round of FORGE. But that doesn’t mean that’s all we’re doing!

Last month I attended the Oregon Geothermal Working Group held in Lakeview, Oregon on April 8th. Project managers gave updates on various geothermal projects taking place in Oregon, including my presentation on the NEWGEN FORGE site. Meeting attendees were excited to hear an update on the project work, and continue to be supportive of the NEWGEN FORGE efforts.

 

ORGeothermalWorkingGroup

A quick photo I took of the landscape surrounding Lakeview, Oregon.

The Oregon Geothermal Working Group includes representatives of utilities, government agencies, environmental groups, farming and rural interests, and geothermal industry developers. The Group was formed in 2004 to promote the use of Oregon’s geothermal resources for power generation and direct use, and meetings are open to the public.

I look forward to presenting at future Oregon Geothermal Working Group meetings! If you’re curious about what I presented, take a look at this copy of the NEWGEN FORGE presentation slides .

Kyla Grasso is a Geologist with AltaRock Energy and serves on the Technical and Communications and Outreach teams for the NEWGEN FORGE project.

Allow Us to Introduce Ourselves: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

April 16, 2016

PNNL

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science recognizes Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) as a lead laboratory in the area of subsurface science. Our unique history supporting the Hanford clean up site outside of Richland, Washington has given us decades of experience that also apply to other challenges facing the deep subsurface, like the geological storage of CO2 or the production of geothermal energy. Backed by this experience, we are proud to lead the NEWGEN project that aims to implement the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) at the Newberry Volcano in Central Oregon. FORGE is led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office.

There are three major areas where PNNL shines when it comes to advancing geothermal technology. They are reservoir stimulation, hybrid systems, and the code comparison study we do on behalf of the Geothermal Technologies Office.

Reservoir Stimulation

PNNL has developed an environmentally friendly fluid that can undergo volumetric expansions triggered by temperature. The stress associated with these expansions in volume has shown to consistently create/propagate fracture networks through highly impermeable igneous rock under enhanced geothermal systems.

Hybrid Systems

The U.S. Geothermal Technologies Office has acknowledged PNNL as a leader in hybrid systems through competitively selected Research and Development awards. These funded projects focus on technologies to recover rare earth elements combined with the use of low-grade geothermal resources. We are also developing materials that enhance heat transfer.

Code Comparison Study

Lastly, we lead the code comparison study, which is developing improved tools for the characterization and modeling of the subsurface at enhanced geothermal system project sites. It also demonstrates the ability of the scientific community to accurately detect reservoir characteristics including fluid pathways, dynamics, and residence times.

I am so excited for the chance to further enhanced geothermal system technologies and geothermal science at the NEWGEN site. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty!

About the Author

Dr. Alain Bonneville is a Laboratory Fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. He is the Principal Investigator for the NEWGEN project, one of the Department of Energy’s FORGE sites.

 

Reflections On Stanford Geothermal Workshop

March 11, 2016

One of the key challenges in enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) is to understand how a fluid flows in the fracture network created by the stimulation processes. What is the extent of the fractures? What are their aperture? Are they connected? Is the surface of exchange between the fluid (water most of the time) and the hot rocks large enough to recover most of the heat present in the rocks? All these questions are fundamental for the success of any EGS project.

This “hot” topic was largely discussed during the last Stanford Geothermal Workshop held at Stanford University, Stanford, CA, between February 22nd and 24th, 2016 where more than 400 scientists from all over the world gather to present their latest findings and discuss innovative ideas.

Among all the papers presented on this subject, one particularly caught my attention.

Untitled

Example of a fracture network created by a 3D printer (Suzuki et al., 2016).

It was presented by Ana Suzuki and collaborators who have used a 3D printer to create artificial and well controlled fracture network models with different geometric characteristics. They inject tracers in the created plastic model to map the fractures and then compare their results in terms of fractures properties to the results obtained by numerical simulation on the same geometry (see figure). The numerical modelling is thus calibrated and the tracers can now be used to characterize real fracture networks. This is quite an achievement!

Ana Suzuki is postdoc at Stanford University in the Geothermal Program of Prof. Roland Horne. You can learn more about Ana’s research here.

About the Author

Dr. Alain Bonneville is a Laboratory Fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. He is the Principal Investigator for the NEWGEN project, one of the Department of Energy’s FORGE sites.

NEWGEN Website Launched!

February 23, 2016

We’re excited to announce the launch of our new website dedicated entirely to the Newberry Geothermal Energy project. Check it out at www.newberrygeothermal.com and be sure to click on the video explaining geothermal energy and the FORGE initiative. We’ll continue to update this blog, our Facebook page, and the new website as the project moves forward. Thanks for staying tuned!

website

Welcome to the new look of the Newberry Geothermal Energy blog!

January 12, 2016

Newberry Geothermal Energy (NEWGEN) is a collaborative effort lead by a team of researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Oregon State University and AltaRock Energy, Inc. Combining research, academic and industry experience, this dynamic group will push geothermal energy research forward at the Newberry Volcano Enhanced Geothermal Energy (EGS) field site. Newberry Geothermal Energy is funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) through a competitive grant process which provides staged funding opportunities over the next several years. Five initial teams and field sites were selected in early 2015 to kick-off the DOE Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) initiative, and the Newberry site is a strong contender amongst them.

The project is currently in Phase I of III and has received $400,000 in initial funding from the DOE FORGE initiative plus additional investments from partner institutions. Phase I will culminate in a conceptual geologic model detailing the geothermal resource at Newberry Volcano, and a final report and presentation to the DOE FORGE review committee in the spring of 2016. Together, the conceptual geologic model, report and presentation will articulate Newberry’s suitability as the nation’s FORGE site. The five competing groups in Phase I will be down-selected to a maximum of three groups which will continue to Phase II. Phase II will involve further site characterization, team building and planning, followed by down-selection to the final FORGE site which will continue into Phase III. Phase III will involve field site development, well drilling, reservoir stimulation and testing and other competitively funded research and development activities related to EGS.

If Newberry Geothermal Energy is selected as the final FORGE site, there will be significant economic benefits to Central Oregon, the state and the region as scientists and engineers from around the country and the world come to the community to do research. The NEWGEN site is just 28 miles from OSU-Cascades, Oregon State University’s branch campus in Bend, creating opportunities for faculty research, student internships and community engagement. Successful development of the Newberry site into a national laboratory for EGS research will support cutting-edge science and engineering dedicated to bringing geothermal energy online at competitive market rates across the country. The laboratory will also serve as a training site for those entering the sustainable energy workforce.

Eventually, research breakthroughs at FORGE will enable development of the massive geothermal resource on Newberry Volcano with the potential to create up to 300 construction jobs and 100 permanent jobs. In addition, the State of Oregon and Deschutes County will benefit from royalty income generated by the project during Phase III. The technologies to be tested and developed at NEWGEN will be applicable across the many volcanic areas of the western US, opening them up to EGS technology and making a real difference to the national capacity for EGS power generation.

With a long history of investment and research at Newberry, the site is well-aligned with DOE FORGE goals and requirements. Previous research at Newberry has made significant progress in characterizing the geologic and thermal properties of the area and significantly improved our understanding of EGS development in volcanic terrains. The Newberry Geothermal Energy team is dedicated to improving the scientific understanding of EGS development, deployment and effective management to generate sustainable energy for the future.

We thank you for visiting and hope you’ll continue to support us in our efforts to bring A Research Observatory for a Sustainable Future to Central Oregon!

Susan Petty speaks about Geothermal Energy at Paris Climate Summit

December 8, 2015
COP21 logo

AltaRock Energy, Inc. founder, Susan Petty recently spoke about the role of renewable geothermal energy at the Re-energising the Future conference as part of the COP21 Paris Climate Summit. A video of the session is available here, and Susan’s talk begins at 1:48 of Part 2.