Description: The near-term challenges of the US geothermal industry and its long-range potential are dominant themes in this issue of the US Department of Energy (DOE) Geothermal Progress Monitor which summarizes calendar-year 1996 events in geothermal development. Competition is seen as an antidote to current problems and a cornerstone of the future. Thus, industry's cost-cutting strategies needed to increase the competitiveness of geothermal energy in world markets are examined. For example, a major challenge facing the US industry today is that the sales contracts of independent producers have reached, or soon will, the critical stage when the prices utilities must pay them drop precipitously, aptly called the cliff. However, Thomas R. Mason, President and CEO of CalEnergy told the DOE 1996 Geothermal Program Review XIV audience that while some of his company's plants have ''gone over the cliff, the world is not coming to an end.'' With the imposition of severe cost-cutting strategies, he said, ''these plants remain profitable... although they have to be run with fewer people and less availability.'' The Technology Development section of the newsletter discusses enhancements to TOUGH2, the general purpose fluid and heat flow simulator and the analysis of drill cores from The Geysers, but the emphasis is on advanced drilling technologies.
Date: December 31, 1996
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