A year after Hawaii’s Kīlauea eruptions, a nearby geothermal plant eyes restart

Lava approaching the Puna geothermal plant.

Enlarge / May 21, 2018:
Lava erupts and flows from a Kīlauea volcano fissure, near to the
Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) plant on Hawaii’s Big Island near
Pahoa, Hawaii. The plant, currently shut down in the wake of
encroaching volcanic activity, provides electricity to around 25
percent of the island. (credit:
Mario Tama/Getty Images
)

Last May, Hawaii’s Kīlauea volcano erupted suddenly, starting
a weeks-long lava creep that destroyed dozens of homes and required
thousands of residents to be evacuated. Among the structural
casualties, the lava also threatened an important source of
electricity on the Island of Hawaii: the Puna Geothermal
Complex.

Now, the company behind Puna is projecting that the complex may
be restarted by the end of this year, following
a potential renegotiation of its contract with Hawaii Electric
Light Company
.

Geothermal plants like Puna create electricity by using the
natural heat of underground rocks to heat a working fluid that
produces steam to drive a turbine. Puna provided 25 percent of the
electricity that served Hawaii (just the Big Island, not the whole
Aloha State). So it was an important low-carbon energy source on an
island that has historically imported oil to meet its primary
energy needs. Although the Big Island has been aggressively
incorporating solar power and energy storage onto its grid,
petroleum still plays a prominent role in serving the island, which
not only creates carbon emissions but also drives the price of
electricity up for residents because the oil must be imported.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
A year after Hawaii’s Kīlauea eruptions, a nearby geothermal plant eyes restart