Silver Peak Innovative Exploration Project Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Silver Peak Innovative Exploration Project
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act: Geothermal Technologies Program
Project Type / Topic 2 Validation of Innovative Exploration Technologies
Project Description The scope of this three phase project includes tasks to validate a variety of innovative exploration and drilling technologies which aim to accurately characterize the geothermal site and thereby reduce project risk. Phase 1 exploration will consist of two parts: 1) surface and near surface investigations and 2) subsurface geophysical surveys and modeling. The first part of Phase 1 includes: a hyperspectral imaging survey (to map thermal anomalies and geothermal indicator minerals), shallow temperature probe measurements, and drilling of temperature gradient wells to depths of 1000 feet. In the second part of Phase 1, 2D & 3D geophysical modeling and inversion of gravity, magnetic, and magnetotelluric datasets will be used to image the subsurface. This effort will result in the creation of a 3D model composed of structural, geological, and resistivity components. The 3D model will then be combined with the temperature data to create an integrated model that will be used to prioritize drill target locations.

Four geothermal wells will be drilled and geologically characterized in Phase 2. We propose to use a coiled-tube rig to test this drilling technology at a geothermal field for the first time. Two slimwells and two production wells will be drilled with core collected and characterized in the target sections of each well.

In Phase 3, extended flow tests will be conducted on the producible wells to confirm the geothermal resource followed by an overall assessment of the productivity of the Silver Peak geothermal area. Finally, Phase 3 will evaluate the relative contribution of each exploration technique in reducing risk during the early stages of the geothermal project.

This project is drill ready.

State Nevada
Objectives The expected outcome of this project is an exploration and drilling case-study of the Silver Peak geothermal resource which can be used to help find and develop geothermal resources in analogous geologic environments.
Awardees (Company / Institution) Sierra Geothermal Power, Inc.
Awardee Website
Partner 1 GeothermEx

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000109
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $5,000,000.00
Awardee Cost Share $7,356,546.00
Total Project Cost $12,356,546.00

Principal Investigator(s) Joel Ronne and Jeff Witter
Other Principal Investigators Conrad Wright, SpecTIR; Chris Kratt, Desert Research Institute; William Cumming, Cumming Geoscience; Jerry Hamblin Subsurface Excellence; Stephen Hallinan, Western Geco; John Deymonaz
Targets / Milestones - Reduce the high level of risk during the early stages of geothermal project development by conducting a multi-faceted and innovative exploration and drilling program at Silver Peak

- Determine the combination of techniques that are most useful and cost-effective in identifying the geothermal resource through a detailed, post-project evaluation of the exploration and drilling program

Location of Project Silver Peak, NV
About the Area Silver Peak is an excellent locality for this project. An independent assessment of the geothermal resource at Silver Peak concluded that commercial temperatures are likely at economically drillable depths and that the Silver Peak resource could support a power plant with a capacity of 15 MW at the 90% probability level and 41 MW at the 50% probability level.

Impacts Validation that hyperspectral surveys can be successfully employed in geothermal exploration and that coiled tube drilling can be used to reduce tripping time and lower costs in geothermal well drilling.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs