An overview of industry–military cooperation in the development of power operations at the Coso geothermal field in southern California

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Journal Article: An overview of industry–military cooperation in the development of power operations at the Coso geothermal field in southern California

Abstract

The Coso Geothermal Field, located in east central California, hosts a world-class power-generating project that has been in continuous operation for the past 15 years. The project is located on the test and evaluation ranges of the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake—the Navy’s premier research and development (R&D) facility for air-to-air and air-to-ground ordnance. Fully financed by private investment, the Coso geothermal power project is a testament to creativity in business and government relations. At its peak, the project produced more than 273 megawatts (MW) of electricity that is all sold into the local utility grid under a long-term power sales agreement.

The geologic setting of the field is a releasing bend step-over in a dextral strike-slip fault system. Local crustal thinning accounts for the shallow (<2 km), very hot (200° - 328°C) resource. Given the present rate of production and reservoir projections based on historical data, it is anticipated that the field will be capable of producing electricity for at least 25, and possi- bly as many as 50 more years.

The overall military geothermal program is managed by the Geothermal Program Office (GPO) located at China Lake, CA. That office is located within the U.S. Navy, but has the broader mandate to oversee exploration for—and development of—geothermal resources wherever they occur on lands under the control of any of the nation’s military services. The GPO executes two broad functions: resource development and resource management. The entire program is guided by the underlying principal that mis- sion integrity is paramount. Thus, if the mission of a candidate facility will be adversely impacted beyond mitigation, a geother- mal project will not proceed. However, it has been found that most real or perceived impediments can be successfully resolved so that viable geothermal power projects can—and do—move forward.

Author 
Francis C. Monastero








Published Journal 
GRC Bulletin, 2002





DOI 
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Online 
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Citation

Francis C. Monastero. 2002. An overview of industry–military cooperation in the development of power operations at the Coso geothermal field in southern California. GRC Bulletin. .