Definition: Geothermal plant capacity factor is influenced by diurnal and seasonal air temperature variation (for air-cooled plants), technology (e.g., binary or flash), downtime, and internal plant energy losses.
Estimates of capacity factor for geothermal plants in the ATB represent typical operation.
Base Year: The capacity factor estimates are developed using GETEM at typical design air temperature and based on design plant capacity net losses. An additional reduction is applied to approximate potential variability due to seasonal temperature effects.
Some geothermal plants have experienced year-on-year reductions in energy production, but this is not consistent across all plants. No approximation of long-term degradation of energy output is assumed.
Future Years: Capacity factors remain unchanged from the Base Year through 2050. Technology improvements are focused on CAPEX costs. The dispatch characteristics of these systems can be valuable to the electric system to manage changes in net electricity demand. Actual capacity factors will be influenced by the degree to which system operators call on geothermal plants to manage grid services. However, a constant dispatch profile is modeled in the ATB and no change is assumed over time.
Developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.