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Meteorological aspects of geothermal energy development : a hypothetical case study

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  • Meteorological aspects of geothermal energy development are first discussed in general terms. An instructive case study is then presented of a hypothetical 100 MW geothermal electrical generating plant at a site near Vale, Oregon. Long-term climate data from Ontario Airport near Ontario, Oregon, are used to describe meteorological characteristics of the Vale site and the effects of topography are discussed. Source data were taken from descriptions of similar plants. A simple Gaussian plume model is applied to the data to estimate typical visible plume lengths at different times of day and year, and fog inducement in terms of extra hours per year. A ballistic-type drift deposition model is used to analyze the impacts of cooling tower drift in terms of drift "rain" intensity and annual moisture deposition. Assumptions and approximations, made with the intention of presenting upper limits to predicted effects, are discussed. Comments and suggestions concerning the extension of the results to contaminant emissions and additional data that would be needed to perform a more detailed and conclusive study are included.
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