Enel SpA (BIT:ENEL) has started operations at the world's first large-scale power plant that combines geothermal power and hydropower technology, the Italian utility said on Tuesday.
In a "first-of-its-kind innovation," the company has added a hydro generator to an injection well at its 25-MW Cove Fort geothermal power plant in the US state of Utah.
The generator captures the energy of the water flowing back into the earth to generate additional electricity. Initial tests have shown that its deployment resulted in an overall increase in output of 1,008 MWh between July and September 2016. This offset the energy consumption of the Cove Fort plant by 8.8%, improving its operational efficiency.
The hydro generator at the same time better controls the flow of brine back into the ground, minimising the risk of damage to the well.
Francesco Venturini, head of Enel's Global Renewable Energies, said the company has created an innovation that maximises plant operations and power generation, and aims to use the technology at its facilities around the world.
The Cove Fort site came online in 2013. It generates up to 160 GWh of electricity a year, powering more than 13,000 US households, Enel says.
Choose your newsletter by Renewables Now. Join for free!