Efficiency improvement for geothermal power generation to meet summer peak demand
Geothermal power is an important part of New Zealand's renewable electricity supply due to its attractive cost and reliability. Modular type binary cycle plants have been imported and installed in various geothermal fields in New Zealand, with plans for further expansion. Power output of these plants deteriorates in the summer because plant efficiency depends directly on the geothermal resource and the ambient temperature. As these plants normally use air-cooled condensers, incorporating a water-augmented air-cooled system could improve the power output in summer thereby matching the peak air-conditioning demand. In this work, power generation for the Rotokawa plant was characterized using a similar plant performance and local weather. The improved performance was modelled for retrofit with a wet-cooling system. Maximum generation increase on the hottest day could be 6.8%. The average gain in power over the summer, November-February, was 1.5%, and the average gain for the whole year was 1%. With current binary unit generation capacity at the Rotokawa plant of 35Â MW, investment in a water-augmented air-cooled system could provide 2Â MW of peak generation on the hottest days. This investment in efficiency is found to compare favourably to other supply options such as solar PV, wind or gas.