Hawaii geothermal company almost done with volcano repairs

Puna Geothermal Venture pgvPuna Geothermal Venture hopes to finish reconstruction of its facility this year after the eruption of a Hawaii volcano shut down its operation, the company said.

The power production company on the Big Island hopes to be ready to sell electricity in early 2020, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Thursday.

The company is attempting to resume normal operations after wells were isolated or covered by lava in the Kilauea volcano eruption that began in May 2018 and destroyed more than 700 homes in lower Puna.

Lava destroyed the company’s substation and covered geothermal wells, while cutting off road access to the state’s only geothermal power plant. The company began drilling a new production well in October.

Mike Kaleikini, the company’s senior director of Hawaii affairs, said Tuesday that returning to operations means having the ability to generate electricity and transport it to the grid operated by Hawaii Electric Light Co.

A power purchase agreement between the companies is under negotiation, Kaleikini said.

“We’re looking for sure next year. The earlier the better,” Kaleikini said. He added that the timeline depends on various factors and that permitting can be challenging.

The company received a permit allowing an access road and ground work for a new electrical substation, but is still working to obtain a building permit, Kaleikini said.

The company has a connection allowing the plant to export power, but full capacity cannot be restored until the substation is built, he said.

Hawaii geothermal company almost done with volcano repairs
By Associated Press via Hawaii News Now, Dec. 27, 2019
https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2019/12/27/hawaii-geothermal-company-almost-done-with-volcano-repairs/

PGV reconstruction efforts on schedule to be finished by end of 2019

Puna Geothermal Venture PGVPuna Geothermal Venture is expecting to return to operation by the end of this year and hopes to sell electricity in early 2020.

The state’s only geothermal power plant was isolated by lava during the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano, when lava destroyed a substation and covered a few geothermal wells, as well as cut off road access to the plant. It was otherwise spared significant damage in the eruption that began May 3, 2018, in lower Puna.

“The restart and reconstruction efforts of Puna are on schedule, and we expect our refurbishment activities will be completed by the end of the year, enabling us to deliver energy from the plant on the temporary lines that help support the power plant,” said Isaac Angel, CEO of PGV parent company Ormat Technologies, during a 2019 third-quarter earnings call in November. “We expect to be able to sell electricity produced at Puna as soon as the relevant permits required from the local authorities for the operation of the substation and transmission network pathways being undertaken by our partners at Hawaii Electric Light Company are received. These are expected by the end of Q1 2020.”

Mike Kaleikini, senior director, Hawaii affairs, said in a phone call Tuesday that returning to operation means having the ability to generate electricity and transport it to the HELCO grid.

This is the “test period, and then in the future, when the substation is built and the transmission lines (are built), then we anticipate being able to sell power to HELCO.”

Although the timeline depends on a number of factors, Kaleikini said “we’re looking for sure next year. The earlier the better,” although permitting can be a challenge.

According to Kaleikini, PGV received a grading permit which allowed the company to build an access road and do ground work for a new electrical substation but is going through the county permitting process for a building permit for the substation.

While PGV has a service connection that would allow the plant to export some power, the plant can’t return to full capacity until the substation is built, he said.

Kaleikini said PGV has so far restored several geothermal wells and repaired several electrical generating units.

Of PGV’s 11 geothermal wells, three were covered during the eruption, along with two groundwater wells, Kaleikini said. One of the covered wells has been uncovered.

The geothermal plant also drilled one new water well and is almost done with a second, backup water well, and it repaired two injection wells and one production well that were not covered by lava.

PGV began drilling a new production well in October, and Kaleikini said that well is expected to be completed some time in the first quarter of 2020.

According to a PowerPoint presentation that accompanied the earnings call, expected capital expenditures for well repairs and new drilling are expected to cost between $30 million and $50 million.

Ormat, however, expects proceeds from Control of Wells insurance to recover part of this investment.

“We maintained coverage for property and business interruptions in Hawaii provided by a consortium of insurers,” Angel said during the November earnings call. “All of the insurers have now started paying the costs to rebuild the damaged power plant equipment. However, certain insurers rejected our claim for business interruption coverage, and we have filed a lawsuit against those insurers. These lawsuits will not impact our plans for restarting the Puna facility.”

As of Sept. 30, the total claim for losses is $56.7 million, and Ormat has received $21.2 million, according to the presentation.

A docket from Hawaii Electric Light Co. — with the application for the construction of overhead transmission lines that will reconnect PGV to the HELCO grid — was suspended by the state Public Utilities Commission in August, pending additional information regarding project permits and a renegotiated power purchase agreement between the two companies.

HELCO was in negotiations with PGV regarding a possible amended and restated power purchase agreement that would, among other things, de-link the cost of power from the price of oil.

Kaleikini said the power purchase agreement between HELCO and PGV is still under negotiation.

“We are hopeful the suspended docket will be reopened by the end of the year … ,” he said.

PGV reconstruction efforts on schedule to be finished by end of 2019
By STEPHANIE SALMONS Hawaii Tribune-Herald | Thursday, December 26, 2019, 12:05 a.m.
https://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/2019/12/26/hawaii-news/pgv-reconstruction-efforts-on-schedule-to-be-finished-by-end-of-2019/

Job Opportunity: DLNR Mineral Resources Specialist

DLNR Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources logoThe Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources is looking for a Mineral Resources Specialist.

Job description: “This position is responsible for serving as planner-in-charge of departmental geothermal resources management activities by conducting studies, performing analyses, preparing plans and coordinating activities related to the proper management of geothermal resources and development of geothermal energy in Hawaii. Performs other duties as assigned.”

For more information, please click on the link for the job ad: https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/hawaii/jobs/2650150/mineral-resources-specialist?sort=PostingDate%7CDescending&pagetype=transferJobs

Nicole Tours Red Hill

Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility Nicole LautzeOur director Nicole Lautze attended a tour of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. Built in 1943, “Red Hill” is an underground fuel facility for the U.S. military branches. Within basalt rocks, Red Hill’s twenty storage tanks can store millions of gallons of fuel. Since 2006, the U.S. Department of Defense invested over $260 million to modernize the facility and protect nearby groundwater.

Along with Nicole, attendees included Brennon Morioka and David Ma (Dean and Associate Dean of UH College of Engineering) and individuals from the Hawaii State Department of Health, Waianae Community Board, and private consultants.

Diamond Named UCAR Diversity and Inclusion Fellow

Diamond Tachera

Congrats to our PhD student Diamond for becoming a UCAR Diversity and Inclusion Fellow!

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) has announced the winners of the 2019 Next Generation FellowshipsDiamond Tachera, graduate student in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Sciences (SOEST) has been named Diversity and Inclusion Fellow.

Tachera is a kanaka ʻōiwi (Native Hawaiian) student who is pursuing a doctoral degree in hydrogeology at the SOEST Department of Earth Sciences. Her research focuses on precipitation and groundwater connectivity between Hawaiian aquifers, and her scientific goals focus on the intersection of indigenous knowledge and the scientific process to create sustainable water resource management within the State of Hawaiʻi.

Tachera earned her bachelor’s degree in geology and geophysics, also at UH Mānoa. Since she was an undergraduate student, she has participated in the Maile Mentoring Program, a campaign to support native Hawaiian students pursuing STEM degrees through mentorship. Tachera is also on the newly formed School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council at UH Mānoa.

“As a kanaka Earth scientist, I think the intersection of indigenous knowledge and Western science could play a key role in water resource management,” says Tachera. “I see myself as a science-community mediator in the future in a position that allows me to continue to work in a science field but placing importance on meeting and understanding community issues and goals.

The UCAR Fellowship program, which is in its third year, supports graduate students from underrepresented communities in their professional careers as Earth system scientists. The fellows will receive financial support for two years of graduate school and participate in two summer internships with UCAR and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), which is managed by UCAR on behalf of the National Science Foundation.

“The Next Generation Fellowships were created to recognize that individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences are an asset to the scientific community,” said UCAR President Antonio Busalacchi. “This year’s cohort continues to raise the standard set by past fellows in scientific rigor, problem-solving, and community engagement and inclusion in Earth system science.”

Read more on the UCAR announcement.

“Earth Sciences student named UCAR Diversity and Inclusion Fellow”
September 9, 2019, by Marcie Grabowski, News, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii at Manoa
https://www.soest.hawaii.edu/soestwp/announce/news/earth-sciences-graduate-student-named-2019-ucar-diversity-and-inclusion-fellow/

Richard Ha Visits HGGRC’s Office

two people at the office
Nicole Lautze and Richard Ha

One of our newest fans, Richard Ha visited our office last week Monday! A lifelong resident of Big Island, Hawaii, the former president of Hamakua Springs Country Farms advocates geothermal energy in Hawaii:

From the point of view of the farmer, we should enable geothermal into the grid. Geothermal costs half as much as oil to produce electricity. And, its cost will stay stable while oil will keep on rising. Geothermal is a proven technology that is environmentally benign—it produces no greenhouse gasses.

Mahalo for your support, Richard!

Diamond Represents Ike Wai at the SOEST Open House

Diamond Tachera SOEST Open HouseOur graduate student Diamond Tachera (third from the right) shared her groundwater knowledge with the community at the SOEST Open House. Diamond explained the Ike Wai project and hosted activities for kids including building a watershed in a sandbox, stamping, and coloring. Graduate students Trista McKenzie and Brytne Okuhata also participated at the booth.

The SOEST Open House took place on Friday and Saturday, October 25 and 26, at the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. Every two years, the UH School of Ocean and Earth Science Technology (SOEST) hosts the open house to educate K-12 students and the community.

Diamond Tachera SOEST Open HouseDiamond Tachera Ike Wai SOEST Open House

Full Operation of Puna Geothermal by the End of the Second Quarter of 2020

Ormat Technologies, Inc. today announced financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2019:

Isaac Angel, Chief Executive Officer commented, “The reconstruction efforts at Puna are on schedule and we expect our refurbishment activities will be completed by the end of the year, enabling us to deliver energy from the plant. All of our insurers have now started paying the costs to rebuild the damaged power plant equipment. However, certain insurers rejected our claim for business interruption coverage, and we have filed a lawsuit against these insurers. These lawsuits will not impact our plans for re-starting the Puna facility, and we expect to be able to sell the electricity produced at Puna as soon as the relevant permits required from local authorities for the operation of the substation and the transmission network upgrades being undertaken by our partners at Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) are received.  These are expected by the end of Q1 2020, and so we expect to be able to bring the power plant back to operation promptly thereafter, and to gradually increase the power plant’s generating capacity as we complete wellfield drilling work, with a target of regaining full operation by the end of the second quarter of 2020.”

“USA, Hawaii: Target of Regaining Full Operation of Puna Geothermal by the End of the Second Quarter of 2020 – Ormat CEO”
Wednesday, November 6, 2019, Geothermal Resources Council
https://geothermalresourcescouncil.blogspot.com/2019/11/usa-hawaii-geothermal.html

Presentation: Hawaii’s groundwater and geothermal resources: what we do know and don’t know

This Friday, you can learn more about our research: “Hawaii’s groundwater and geothermal resources: what we do know and don’t know” by Dr. Nicole Lautze

Research over the past two decades has yielded some unexpected results from the perspective of Hawaii’s groundwater and geothermal resources. This presentation will discuss what we do know and do not know about both resources in the state, highlighting information obtained from recent projects by the Hawaii Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center. It will focus, in particular, on a recent statewide geothermal resources assessment. Light refreshments will be served!

Dr. Nicole Lautze

Friday, November 3, 2019, 3:30 pm, POST room 723, University of Hawaii at Manoa campus
Dr. Nicole Lautze, Research Faculty, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawaii at Manoa

For the list of Fall 2019 Earth Sciences Seminars and Speakers, please visit: http://go.hawaii.edu/6YG.

Niels Won the ICEG 2019 Innovation Award!

Congrats to Dr. Niels Grobbe for winning the ICEG 2019 Innovation Award! The Fifth International Conference on Engineering Geophysics (ICEG) took place at the United Arab Emirates. From SEG Middle East

Heartfelt congratulations to the Winners of the ICEG2019 Innovation Award: 1st – Niels Grobbe, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, 2nd – Daniele Colombo, Saudi Aramco, and 3rd –  Jing Li, Jilin University #iceg #innovationaward #seg #nearsurface #geophysics

Fifth International Conference on Engineering Geophysics
https://seg.org/Events/ICEG19

SOEST Open House: What’s Inside a Volcano? Rocks, Water, and Geothermal Heat!

You’re invited to the SOEST Open House, and HGGRC will be hosting “What’s Inside a Volcano? Rocks, Water, and Geothermal Heat!” Hands-on activities and demonstrations will involve rocks from deep inside Earth (Hawaii’s volcanoes) and groundwater and geothermal energy. The SOEST Open House will take place on Friday, October 25, from 8:30 am to 2 pm and on Saturday, October 26, from 10 am to 2 pm at the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. Please visit HGGRC at POST 619. More info is on the flier and at the following link: https://www.soest.hawaii.edu/soestwp/2017-soest-open-house/.

Many thanks to the following from HGGRC for contributing: Colin Ferguson (the leader!), Nicole Lautze, Daniel Dores, Diamond Tachera, Ted Brennis, and Ingrid Suter.

PGV drilling new well this week

Mike Kaleikini

Puna Geothermal Venture will begin drilling a new production well this week, according to a letter sent out earlier this month to neighbors and community members.

Drilling will begin on the Kapoho State 18, or KS-18, well on Wednesday and is expected to be completed by Jan. 16, 2020, the letter states.

This work comes as PGV moves to resume operations after being isolated by lava during the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano.

Lava destroyed a substation and covered a few geothermal wells, as well as cut off road access to the state’s only geothermal power plant, but it was otherwise spared significant damage in the eruption that began May 3, 2018, in lower Puna.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources in August approved permits for two new wells — KS-18 and KS-17 — but PGV officials were still debating a course of action at that time.

During a community meeting in mid-September, PGV officials said they were still deciding whether to drill a new well or clean out an existing one.

“We were planning to drill the new well before the eruption,” said Mike Kaleikini, PGV’s senior director of Hawaii affairs, adding that PGV is refurbishing wells it closed up prior to the eruption.

So far, Kaleikini said several injection wells have been recovered and PGV is in the process of recovering one production well.

PGV will eventually drill KS-17, a reinjection well and the second well permitted by DLNR in August, said Kaleikini.

“We will still continue to recover and refurbish other existing wells,” he said.

Kaleikini said there will be “activity” associated with the drilling of the new well, “but it should not be much more different from what is occurring currently with the refurbishment and recovery of the existing wells,” as the same equipment is used.

PGV is allowed to build as many as 28 wells under a plan of operation approved in 2006.

It currently has 11 wells — five for injection and six for production — that range in depths of 4,000 feet and 8,000 feet.

The KS-18 will have a depth of about 5,000 feet.

Kaleikini said it has been PGV’s plan to be operational, meaning online and generating and exporting electricity, before the end of 2019.

That’s still the goal, he said, and “come next year, we’ll continue to improve on what’s going on in our facility.”

However, a docket from Hawaii Electric Light Co. — with the application for the construction of overhead transmission lines that will reconnect PGV to the HELCO grid — was suspended by the state Public Utilities Commission in August, pending additional information regarding project permits and a renegotiated power purchase agreement between the two companies.

HELCO had been in negotiations with PGV regarding a possible amended and restated power purchase agreement that would, among other things, de-link the cost of power from the price of oil, an order from the PUC states.

The commission had requested quarterly updates beginning on June 1 regarding the status of permits required for the project.

Because it lacks “substantive details on a renegotiated PPA,” and an expected timeline for various permit approvals following a quarterly update submitted on June 3, the commission suspended the docket until Dec. 31 with the expectation that the information will be provided by the end of 2019.

Kaleikini referred questions about that matter to HELCO, but a spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

He said, however, PGV would help HELCO “however we can.”

A PGV information line offers a daily recorded message that gives up-to-date information on plant and well field activities at 934-9072, and a well 24-hour response line for those with questions is available at 369-9094.

PGV drilling new well this week
October 14, 2019, by Stephanie Salmons, Hawaii Tribune-Herald
https://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/2019/10/14/hawaii-news/pgv-drilling-new-well-this-week/

PGV Plans to Begin Drilling on New Well

The Puna Geothermal Venture plans to start drilling again in less than a week after operations were suspended in 2018 during the Kīlauea eruption. The depth of the well is expected to be 5,000 feet.

According to a notice sent out to all Puna residents, PGV plans to commence drilling operations for the geothermal well Kapoho State on Oct. 18. The estimated completion date is Jan. 16, 2020.

“We appreciate your patience with the ongoing drilling activities and want to assure you that we will take great care in minimizing any drilling-related impacts to our neighbors,” the notice states.

During the eruption, drilling equipment, three geothermal wells and two water wells were covered. Michael Kaleikini, senior director of Hawai‘i Affairs at the facility, said the plan was always to return to operational status by the end of the year, which he expects will happen.

Mike Kaleikini

The plant has 11 wells that range from 4,000 to 8,000 feet. Kaleikini said they were planning to drill more wells but were forced to stop because of the eruption.

Sen. Russell Ruderman, who represents Puna and the town of Pahala in Ka‘u, told Hawaii News Now he believes drilling is still too dangerous.

“They’re taking a risk that wasn’t there before. The entire geological structure they’re drilling into has changed,” Ruderman told HNN. “Right now there’s lava still flowing underneath them that they’re going to drill into.”

Kaleikini couldn’t comment on what Ruderman said. However, he said PGV understands the risks of drilling rift zones and safety is their number one priority.

“We have many experts in the field of geology that we consult with,” he said. “We respect what the eruption has done and changed. We’re not going in blind.”

Kaleikini added they are confident they can start the drilling process successfully and safely.

Further information is available via the PGV information line, a daily-recorded message giving up-to-date information on power plant and well field activities. The information line phone number is 808-934-9072.

PGV also maintains 24-hour response lines, where a company representative will return calls. The response line phone number is 808-369-9094.

PGV is a geothermal energy conversion plant bringing steam and hot liquid up through underground wells. The hot liquid (brine) is not used for electricity at this time. The steam is directed to a turbine generator that produces electricity.

PGV Plans to Begin Drilling on New Well
October 10, 2019, by Tiffany DeMasters, Big Island Now
https://bigislandnow.com/2019/10/10/pgv-plans-to-begin-drilling-on-new-well/

Colin Won Best Student Poster Award at GRC Meeting

Our master’s degree student Colin Ferguson won the Best Student Poster Award at the Geothermal Resources Council Fall Meeting. The title of the poster was “Dissolved Noble Gas Exploration for Blind Geothermal Resources in the State of Hawaii – Part of Hawaii Play Fairway Phase 3.” Co-authored by Principal Investigator Nicole Lautze, the poster included a description of noble gases, site selection methodology, results, and future work plan.

Colin and Nicole attended the Geothermal Resources Council Fall Meeting at Palm Springs, California, on September 15 through 18.

Congrats, Colin!

Mauna Kea Hydrology Presented By Dr. Don Thomas

The hydrology of Mauna Kea was the subject of a presentation by Dr. Don Thomas in Hilo on Friday.

Thomas, a geochemist and noted groundwater expert on Hawaiʻi Island, shared his work studying the aquifer with the Mauna Kea Management Board.

Thomas explained how a complicated dike complex beneath the summit intercepts infiltrating rainfall recharge and greatly slows its transport toward sea level.

Thomas talked about the high level water in the flanks of Mauna Kea that was confirmed by two recent research holes drilled in the Humuʻula Saddle.

The Mauna Kea Management Board spent a portion of Friday meeting talking about the decommissioning of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, and how a hydraulic spill back in 2009 was complicating the environmental due diligence of the process.

Thomas downplayed concerns of aquifer contamination, as he explained how the rainfall recharge can take over 2,000 years to filter down to the aquifer.

“If water is taking that length of time, essentially, the likelihood of contaminants surviving that trip is pretty close to zero,” said Thomas. “There is an active, biological community within the geologic formation that even looks at diesel fuel and hydraulic oil as a food source and will break that material down.”

Mauna Kea Hydrology Presented By Dr. Don Thomas
September 30, 2019, by Big Island Video News

VIDEO: Mauna Kea Hydrology Presented By Dr. Don Thomas

PGV work drills ahead

Mike Kaleikini

Puna Geothermal Venture is continuing its work toward recovery, plant officials said during a community meeting earlier this month in Pahoa.

The plant closed in May 2018 during the eruption of Kilauea volcano.

Lava destroyed a substation and covered a few geothermal wells, as well as cut off road access to the state’s only geothermal power plant, but it was otherwise spared significant damage in the eruption that began May 3, 2018, in lower Puna.

Although recovery is ongoing, plant manager Jordan Hara told the small crowd gathered Sept. 18 PGV still has “a lot of work to do.”

When it comes to the plant’s equipment, “we’re going pretty good, getting a lot of equipment fixed up, repaired or replaced.”

PGV is currently cleaning out one of its production wells, Hara said, and after that, “we’re in debate of which route we want to go, whether we … drill a new well, or potentially work on another (existing) well, cleaning it out.”

PGV’s tank made in South Korea

PGV is allowed to build as many as 28 wells under a plan of operation approved in 2006. It currently has 11 wells — five for injection and six for production — that range in depths of 4,000 feet and 8,000 feet.

Applications for two new geothermal wells were approved last month by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, but PGV officials said at that time that new wells were still under consideration.

Mike Kaleikini, PGV’s senior director of Hawaii, said after the meeting that PGV still aims to be operational by year-end.

Hara said after the meeting that under ideal circumstances, PGV “would like to at least try to run and test our equipment” by the end of the year. “Now, actually selling power to the grid, (that is) not likely until we have our substation, which is next year. So, we’re shooting to at least start up and run some equipment and make sure everything’s good and test everything.”

When looking at PGV’s overall recovery, Hara said, “I mean, it’s recovery of a whole power plant, right? So you have a lot of electrical stuff that you have to go through. We’ve rebuilt turbines, we’ve rebuilt generators, motors. We have to get a good production well, get a good reinjection well. There’s a lot of stuff that we can’t test until we get HELCO power.”

During the meeting, Hara told the crowd that PGV has had its service with HELCO reconnected.

“We do have one of our main water pumps running off HELCO power, we have brought in HELCO power into our main switch gear, and slowly … we’re getting more equipment on that, which is nice to get off generators.”

PGV is also working with HELCO to tie a neighboring subdivision into its line, “to hopefully get service power to the subdivision below us to help them out — and at no cost to them, on our side, anyway,” Hara said.

After the meeting, Hara said that once PGV gets full service, “which we’re in the process of,” it’ll be all hands on deck to test instrumentation and other equipment that requires electricity.

“Everything’s going,” Hara told the group. “Not easy. A lot of work. But it’s going.”

“We’re making progress,” Kaleikini said. “We’re staying focused on safety. Safety has and always will be our No. 1 priority.”

“PGV work drills ahead”
September 29, 2019, by Stephanie Salmons, Hawaii Tribune-Herald
https://www.westhawaiitoday.com/2019/09/29/features/pgv-work-drills-ahead/

PGV officials discuss ongoing facility repairs at meeting

Mike Kaleikini

Puna Geothermal Venture is continuing its work toward recovery, plant officials said during a community meeting Wednesday afternoon in Pahoa.

The plant closed in May 2018 during the eruption of Kilauea volcano.

Lava destroyed a substation and covered a few geothermal wells, as well as cut off road access to the state’s only geothermal power plant, but it was otherwise spared significant damage in the eruption that began May 3, 2018, in lower Puna.

Although recovery is ongoing, plant manager Jordan Hara told the small crowd gathered Wednesday PGV still has “a lot of work to do.”

When it comes to the plant’s equipment, “we’re going pretty good, getting a lot of equipment fixed up, repaired or replaced.”

PGV is currently cleaning out one of its production wells, Hara said, and after that, “we’re in debate of which route we want to go, whether we … drill a new well, or potentially work on another (existing) well, cleaning it out.”

PGV is allowed to build as many as 28 wells under a plan of operation approved in 2006. It currently has 11 wells — five for injection and six for production — that range in depths of 4,000 feet and 8,000 feet. Applications for two new geothermal wells were approved last month by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, but PGV officials said at that time that new wells were still under consideration.

Mike Kaleikini, PGV’s senior director of Hawaii, said after Wednesday’s meeting that PGV still aims to be operational by year-end.

Hara said after the meeting that under ideal circumstances, PGV “would like to at least try to run and test our equipment” by the end of the year. “Now, actually selling power to the grid, (that is) not likely until we have our substation, which is next year. So, we’re shooting to at least start up and run some equipment and make sure everything’s good and test everything … .”

When looking at PGV’s overall recovery, Hara said, “I mean it’s recovery of a whole power plant, right? So you have a lot of electrical stuff that you have to go through. We’ve rebuilt turbines, we’ve rebuilt generators, motors. We have to get a good production well, get a good reinjection well. There’s a lot of stuff that we can’t test until we get HELCO power.”

During the meeting, Hara told the crowd that PGV has had its service with HELCO reconnected.

“We do have one of our main water pumps running off HELCO power, we have brought in HELCO power into our main switch gear, and slowly … we’re getting more equipment on that, which is nice to get off generators.”

PGV is also working with HELCO to tie a neighboring subdivision into its line, “to hopefully get service power to the subdivision below us to help them out — and at no cost to them, on our side, anyway,” Hara said.

After the meeting, Hara said that once PGV gets full service, “which we’re in the process of,” it’ll be all hands on deck to test instrumentation and other equipment that requires electricity.

“Everything’s going,” Hara told the group. “Not easy. A lot of work. But it’s going.”

“We’re making progress,” Kaleikini said. “We’re staying focused on safety. Safety has and always will be our No. 1 priority.”

PGV officials discuss ongoing facility repairs at meeting
By Stephanie Salmons, Sunday, September 22, 2019, Hawaii Tribune-Herald
https://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/2019/09/22/hawaii-news/pgv-officials-discuss-ongoing-facility-repairs-at-meeting/

Puna Geothermal On Track To Reopen In 2019

PGV avoided a direct hit from lava during the 2018 Lelilani Estates erruption, but the plant’s electical connection, access road, and several geothermal wells were covered.

Hawaii’s only geothermal power plant is still on track to resume operations before the end of the year. Puna Geothermal Venture has been shuttered since the 2018 Kilauea volcanic eruption.

The plant was forced to shut down in May 2018, after fast-moving lava threatened the facility. The generation substation was ultimately spared, but three geothermal wells and PGV’s access road were covered by fresh lava. Connection to the electrical grid was also severed.

In a major recovery milestone, the service connection to utility provider Hawaii Electric Light’s grid was recently restored, allowing work at the geothermal plant to continue without external generators.

Before the closure, PGV used 11 geothermal wells to generate 38 megawatts of power, equal to 31 percent of Hawaii Island’s electricity need. The island’s utility was forced to increase electricity production at fossil fuel-burning facilities to make up the shortfall.

Since the end of the Leilani Estates eruption, Puna Geothermal parent company Ormat cut an initial access road through the fresh lava and is working to recover the three wells covered during the eruption.

In April, the company completed a second access road, one that has been opened to residents of the area. According to Hawaii County, 56 structures still remain in an area near PGV that had been completely cut off by lava, called a kipuka in Hawaiian. The road represents the first corridor for ground vehicle access to the area since the eruption.

Work is also expected to begin on upgrades planned before the eruption. Michael Kaleikini, Ormat’s director of Hawaii affairs, says the company recently received regulatory approval to drill new geothermal wells.

“We haven’t drilled any new wells yet, but we’re planning to soon. What we’re doing is recovering our existing wells. The two production wells are still covered because we have been focusing our efforts on the production wells that were not covered by lava,” Kaleikini told HPR.

The plant director says drilling new wells is periodically required, as existing ones become clogged with rock and less productive. Ormat had been planning to drill several new wells before the eruption-forced closure in 2018. The Hawaii Department of Land and Natrual Resources signed off on the new wells in August.

PGV has an existing agreement with Hawaii Electric Light to provide power to the Hawaii Island grid through 2027. The facility could be ready to reopen as soon as November.

Puna Geothermal On Track To Reopen In 2019
By Ryan Finnerty, September 18, 2019, Hawaii Public Radio
https://www.hawaiipublicradio.org/post/puna-geothermal-track-reopen-2019#stream/0

HGGRC Featured in 2019 Hawaii Energy Facts and Figures

The Hawaii State Energy Office featured HGGRC and the Hawaii Play Fairway project in the 2019 Hawaii Energy Facts and Figures:

The Hawaii Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center (HGGRC) catalogs much of the completed and ongoing geothermal-related explorations in Hawaii. Visit HGGRC at https://www.higp.hawaii.edu/hggrc/.

The ongoing Hawaii Play Fairway Project, managed by HGGRC and funded up to $1.5M by the U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office, will provide the first statewide geothermal resource assessment conducted since the late 1970s. Phase I, completed in 2015, involved the identification, compilation, and ranking of existing geologic, groundwater, and geophysical datasets relevant to subsurface heat, fluid, and permeability in Hawaii. Phase II, completed in 2017, involved the collection [of] new groundwater data in 10 locations across the state and new geophysical data on Lanai, Maui, and central Hawaii island, modeling the typography of the areas of interest to better characterize subsurface permeability, and the development of an updated geothermal resource probability map. Phase III involves the collection and analysis of scientific data from existing well sites and may include drilling of a geothermal test well (“slim hole”) at one of the high probability locations determined through Phases I and II. Results from the Hawaii Play Fairway Project will also indicate areas warranting additional geothermal resource exploration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019 Hawaii Energy Facts and Figures
https://energy.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2019-FF_Final.pdf  (pg 21)

Thermal Map Of Kilauea Lower East Rift Zone Lava Flow Produced

This wide-angle photo, taken during the overflight that led to the creation of the thermal map, shows the new path of Highway 132 through the fissure 8 lava channels. USGS photo by M. Patrick, 08-29-2019.

HAWAIʻI VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK – Scientists with the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory recently conducted an overflight of the lower East Rift Zone flow field to create a thermal map.

A new thermal map of Kīlauea Volcano’s lower East Rift Zone has been published to the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory maps page.

The preliminary thermal map shows relative surface temperatures across the 2018 lava flow field in lower Puna. “In general,” USGS HVO wrote, “the surface temperatures correlate with lava flow thickness—compare this map to the lava flow thickness map,” posted on February 19, 2019. “Thicker areas of the lava flows have more residual heat in their interiors, which sustains higher temperatures on the surface.”

For example, in the Kapoho area, where the flow is over 100 feet thick in places, scientists say “there are scattered, small hotspots with surface temperatures greater than 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit). However, most of the lava surface is much cooler than that.”

USGS HVO thermal map published on August 29, 2019.

The high temperatures have presented a challenge for the County as it works to complete recovery Highway 132, which was inundated by lava during the 2018 eruption. Temperatures were measured at over 800 degrees Fahrenheit, in some places, which exceeds the recommended levels for installing an asphalt-treated base, the County says. The Highway 132 recovery must be finished by October 5 in order for the County to receive a full reimbursement for the project cost from the Federal Highway Administration. The County is seeking a time extension.

The new USGS HVO thermal map was constructed from 2,700 individual thermal images collected during a helicopter overflight on August 29. The map is preliminary, scientists say, “so small alignment issues are present in some areas.”

Thermal Map Of Kilauea Lower East Rift Zone Lava Flow Produced
by Big Island Video News, September 1, 2019

Thermal Map Of Kilauea Lower East Rift Zone Lava Flow Produced

Temperature of cooling lava rock still tops 700 degrees as road clearing work continues

Work to clear Highway 132 has been slow-going since the eruption. (Source: Hawaii Tracker)

This week, HVO geologists measured temperatures and documented rock layers exposed as sections of Highway 132 are “ripped” by road crews.

Construction crews have been working to reopen the highway that was buried by lava from fissure 8 during the 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption.

Researchers say, in places the rock is incredibly dense and has to be slowly broken apart.

This dense rock is interpreted by HVO geologists to be some of the last lava that erupted and solidified within the fissure 8 channel.

Geologist say, the drill bit used to hammer the rock into pieces, gets hot from the solidified lava, which is still at 752 degrees Fahrenheit, occasionally causing the bit to turn purple from the intense heat.

Once they are pried from the ground, the boulders lose most of their heat over the course of a day.

Officials are hoping to complete the road work by Oct. 5.

If they do meet that deadline, they’ll qualify for 100 percent federal reimbursement.

Temperature of cooling lava rock still tops 700 degrees as road clearing work continues
August 10, 2019, Hawaii News Now
https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2019/08/11/temperature-cooling-lava-rock-still-tops-degrees-road-clearing-work-continues/

HGGRC Meeting on August 9

Our group held a meeting on Aloha Friday. We discussed our upcoming Big Island field work, in which we’ll be gathering groundwater samples and analyze them in our lab in Honolulu. Looking at Colin’s laptop, Colin and Diamond rock their aloha shirts on Aloha Friday. Tori Richard and Manuhealii!

Unexplored Geothermal Potential May Offer Solution to Renewables’ Reliability Problem

Hawaii is largely relying on solar panels and battery storage to achieve its 100 percent renewable electricity goal. But geothermal power offers the possibility of carbon-free energy without the inconsistency of solar and wind.

Hawaii is largely relying on solar panels and battery storage to achieve its 100 percent renewable electricity goal. But geothermal power offers the possibility of carbon-free energy without the inconsistency of solar and wind.

Currently, geothermal is not generating any electricity in Hawaii. Puna Geothermal Venture, the state’s only geothermal power plant, closed in 2018 after a near miss with a lava flow from nearby Kilauea Volcano.

Prior to its closing, PGV supplied 31 percent of Hawaii Island’s electricity demand. The plant’s operator says it plans to reopen by the end of 2019.

Geothermal energy has only modest representation in for Hawaii’s energy portfolio. In 2018, prior to PGV’s closure, it supplied less than 4 percent of Hawaii’s total electricity production. Plans for the future include a modest increase in geothermal, but solar remains the dominant source.

But researchers at the University of Hawaii point out that most of the state has not been explored for geothermal potential, a process not unlike surveying for oil deposits.

Research recently presented by graduate student Ted Brennis with the Hawaii Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center indicates that where resources are available, geothermal is competitive with wind and solar on both cost and land use.

He told HPR that Puna Geothermal Venture produces around 1 megawatt of power per acre of land it occupies, far more efficient than its renewable competitors.

“Solar resources generally occupy 5 to 10 acres per installed megawatt. Wind resources fluctuate between 30 and 100 acres per megawatt.”

Geothermal other main advantage is that it can provide what is called baseload capacity, the minimum amount of power needed to be on the grid at any given time.

While solar and wind output fluctuates seasonally and throughout the day, generation from geothermal can be adjusted in the same way a fossil fuel plant can increase or decrease output.

However, there are drawbacks. Surveying for geothermal resources can be costly and time consuming, with no guarantee suitable conditions will be found. Generating power from naturally hot water requires invasive drilling, and sometimes the use of hazardous chemicals.

Blowouts are also a possibility, in which hydrothermal fluids like sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide are unexpectedly released into the atmosphere. Puna Geothermal venture experienced such an incident in 1991.

But Brennis cautions that “no renewable resource is perfect.” He points out that solar panels require the industrial scale mining of quartz, often sourced from open pit mines, and the use of hazardous industrial chemicals in the manufacturing process. Each 2 megawatt wind turbine needs around 700 tons of concrete, a major source of carbon emissions.

So can geothermal be a viable competitor to solar and wind father away from the active Kilauea Volcano? Brennis says that scientists believe the rest of Hawaii Island and Maui have strong potential for geothermal, but no one is really sure.

“That’s the key. We need to better characterize the potential across the rest of the state so we can plan effectively.”

Unexplored Geothermal Potential May Offer Solution to Renewables’ Reliability Problem
July 25, 2019, by Ryan Finnerty, Hawaii Public Radio
https://www.hawaiipublicradio.org/post/unexplored-geothermal-potential-may-offer-solution-renewables-reliability-problem#stream/0

Puna Geothermal Power Plant Refurbishment Should be Completed by End of Year

From Ormat Technologies, Inc. (ORA) CEO Isaac Angel on Q2 2019 Results – Earnings Call Transcript:

CEO Isaac Angel: We continue to make good progress in our efforts to resume operations at Puna. We expect that our power plant refurbishment activities including the work on the substation will be completed on schedule by the end of the year.

Our plants will resume operations as soon as local permitting and transmission network upgrades being undertaken by our local utility partner are completed by early 2020. On the field side during work to renew the plugs from our geothermal wells, we found that two of the production wells were damaged and we will have to repair or re-drill them.

In addition, we continue to work on the other wells. We believe that once we resume operation, capacity would gradually increase as we continue to complete necessary well repairs and trailing. As a vertically integrated company, we have the unique advantage of controlling the entire value chain of geothermal development, this will help us to bring Puna online.

USA, Hawaii: Puna Geothermal Power Plant Refurbishment Should be Completed by End of Year – Ormat CEO
Global Geothermal News, Geothermal Resources Council
https://geothermalresourcescouncil.blogspot.com/2019/08/usa-hawaii-geothermal.html