Power plant generation technology featured by senator

The future of geothermal, wind, solar and other "green" power sources is looking greener than ever in Nevada. Green as in the color of money, that is.

Nevada's U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, long a renewable power advocate, will discuss the future of these power sources at a meeting Thursday in Kings Beach.

Reid will touch on Nevada's vast and mostly untapped renewable power resources, as well as on pending federal legislation aimed at promoting renewable development throughout the country.

Also on hand will be representatives of Advanced Thermal Systems, a Reno firm with licensing rights to a new power plant technology that promises to significantly lower the cost of generating power. Although able to make power with any heat source, the firm plans to use the technology first on two Reno area geothermal projects.

An economic study released this week paints a profitable picture for the renewable power industry.

The study, commissioned by the state's renewable energy task force, claims a total economic benefit of $21.5 billion through 2035 by simply complying with the state's renewable portfolio law. The law requires Nevada's two power companies make renewables at least 15 percent of the power they sell by 2015.

The benefit would come from new jobs and from business-related activities of the expanded energy market.

Geothermal power, generated by mining underground heat using steam and hot water, plays a big role in this forecast. Nevada has been called the Saudi Arabia of geothermal, which made up more than one-third of the power sold in the first round of renewable portfolio contracts with Nevada's utilities.

About half of this first-round power, 44 megawatts, will be provided by Advanced Thermal Systems. Company President Shuman Moore said the project will use Kalina technology, which employs improved methods for heat exchange to generate power. The technology, two decades in the making, has met expectations for efficiency improvement in four recent pilot installations.

This project is expected to be online by 2005. It will be sited at Steamboat Hills, where an ATS affiliate now generates 30 megawatts.

Moore said the new project will generate 44 megawatts with a plant that has the same footprint as the existing one, and at lower cost.

ATS will build smaller, 11 megawatt plant in the same area to provide power to the nearby Redfield campus of the University of Nevada, Reno, slated to open in 2004. Moore said the plant will also supply hot and cool water to the campus. ATS hopes to sell power not used by the campus to Sierra Pacific Power Co.

Moore said that, to his knowledge, this would be the only college campus in the world completely powered by renewable energy.

Thursday's meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the North Tahoe Conference Center.

The meeting is sponsored by the Sierra High Technology Group, a firm providing networking, venture capital funding and startup support for the Lake Tahoe-Reno high-tech community. RSVP to attend the meeting at Sierra1@Sierrahightech.com or contact President Jack Schwartz at (775) 849-2465. The company's Web site is at www.SierraHighTech.com


What: U.S. Sen Harry Reid on renewable power

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: North Tahoe Conference Center, 8318 North Lake Blvd., Kings Beach


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