Cove Fort: the new geothermal frontier

Published on Friday, 16 December 2016

“The operation of this technology, a world’s first, is a major milestone for the geothermal industry and a reinforcement of our commitment to innovation and energy efficiency”

– Francesco Venturini, Enel Green Power Chief Executive Officer

From theory to practice

The innovation developed at Cove Fort originates from an intuition that goes back to the mid-1990s, when the idea emerged of increasing efficiency with geothermal power production by using a downhole generator.

Good ideas only need devotion, commitment and time. “When Cove Fort began operations in 2013, we realized that this plant presents certain characteristics that allowed us to test this theory”, explained Brad Platt, Director of Geothermal and Solar Operations & Maintenance at EGP-NA. 

“Cove Fort can generate up to 160 GWh of energy per year. The new downhole generator adds an additional 5 GWh per year.”

– Danny Lazzareschi, Engineering & Construction EGP

The cutting-edge generator used at Cove Fort captures the energy of the water flowing back into the earth to generate additional power, while also better controlling the flow of brine back into the ground.

The downhole generator creates backpressure within the injection well that prevents two-phase flow and the associated vibration and potential for damage.

The result is a first-of-its-kind innovation that can reduce operational and maintenance expenses, while also having the potential to generate additional revenues.

A valuable partnership: in union there is innovation

Innovation is a path of continual research for the best technology and the best partners that can share our commitment to increase plant efficiency and invent new unprecedented solutions.

The Cove Fort hybrid plant originates from this openness, which has led us to collaborate with global oilfield service company Baker Hughes Incorporated, to explore innovative methods and designs for this technology.

“We shared our expertise with Baker Hughes to further improve geothermal production and better understand renewable energy, with the aim of developing large-scale applications that can produce benefits for the entire industry.”

– Rafael Gonzalez, Enel Green Power North America CEO

The revolution of hybrid renewables

In the USA we also operate the Stillwater Solar Geothermal hybrid plant, which uniquely combines energy from the Sun and from the Earth. The plant in the Fallon County in Nevada is the world’s first to combine binary cycle medium enthalpy geothermal technology with solar thermal and solar PV at the same site.  

In Italy, where geothermal power has a century-long history, our 35 plants in Tuscany are a laboratory of continual innovation. Here, the use of hybrid technologies has turned Cornia 2 into the first European plant that overheats geothermal steam by using biomass.

At Cerro Pabellón, in the Atacama desert in Chile, we are building the first geothermal plant in Latin America, applying first-class technologies and the expertise we have gained worldwide.  

We are constantly looking for solutions for a more creative and smarter use of energy. Geothermal power is an area in which our ability to innovate and open up to new ideas has already produced several achievements.