DOE Grants First Geothermal Loan Guarantee

The U.S. Department of Energy on Thursday finalized a $96.8 million Recovery Act–supported loan guarantee to Neal Hot Springs, a project sponsored by U.S. Geothermal, to construct a 23-MW geothermal project in Oregon’s Malheur County.

Neal Hot Springs is the first geothermal project to complete a loan guarantee under the DOE’s Title XVII loan guarantee program, which was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to support the deployment of innovative clean energy technologies. The DOE loan guarantee will guarantee a loan from the U.S. Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank.

The $96.8 million loan represents 75% of total project cost, U.S. Geothermal said. “When combined with the previously announced equity investment by Enbridge Inc., the loan provides 100 percent of the capital remaining to fully construct the project.”

The project uses a supercritical binary geothermal cycle, which involves pumping a supercritical fluid such as carbon dioxide into an underground formation to fracture the rock. This creates a reservoir for geothermal energy production and heat transport. The supercritical fluid used to form the reservoir can heat up and expand, and it is then pumped out of the reservoir to transfer the heat to a surface power plant.

Sources: DOE, U.S. Geothermal

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