Vulcan Power, a company with one of the larger geothermal project portfolios, says it has received an investment of $145 million from Boston-based private equity firm Denham Capital. The sizable funding has been planned for awhile, as last year Vulcan raised $45 million from Merrill Lynch Commodity Partners (a subsidiary of Merrill Lynch) in what the company said was part of a larger planned $150 million in financing.
Vulcan says in the release it will use the funds to build out geothermal sites it says could generate a whopping 900 MW to 2 GW of steam power. That could provide clean power for as much as 2 million people. Based in Bend, Ore., the 17-year-old company has geothermal projects on more than 160,000 acres of private and federal lands.
Compared to solar and wind, geothermal is a renewable energy source that gets a lot less attention and investment dollars. The process involves drilling down and tapping into heated water reserves and converting the steam into power. The drawback is that the technology can only be used on select geothermal sites, which are limited. But geothermal sites can provide a sizable amount of power, and Vulcan’s power plants can generate in the hundreds of megawatts.
Vulcan has already done several power purchase agreement with utilities in Western United States, including Southern California Edison for 120 MW and PG&E and Nevada Power Company for a total of 300 MW. Vulcan says it is also working on another 300 MW of geothermal power supply contracts with utilities.
Vulcan may be one of the bigger companies but there are several other geothermal site holders out there that have sizable plots. Calpine Corp. owns and operates 19 power plants in The Geysers site in Northern California that combined can generate 725 MW of clean power. Western GeoPower also owns considerable assets at The Geysers. AltaRock Energy is a Seattle-based startup that is building geothermal technology.