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Geothermal Solutions: How Hot Rock Helped Keep the Peppermill Afloat Return To Content - Reno, Nevada

Geothermal Solutions: How Hot Rock Helped Keep the Peppermill Afloat

The Peppermill Resort in Reno, Nevada boasts more than 2,200 hotel rooms and suites, convention space, a spa, two pools, more than 25 restaurants and lounges, a fitness center, and more – in all, more than 2 million sq. ft. of operations. But the most interesting aspect of the resort, at least to its guests this week, may be that everywhere they walk or swim is heated by geothermal energy. This makes the Peppermill the perfect spot for this year's GRC Annual Meeting and Geothermal Energy Expo.

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So it's a totally green resort? I wonder if that makes it unique. 

Not totally green, but I would guess it's one of the largest private geothermal projects, and probably one of a few in the lodging sector, if not the only one.  Lots of $ upfront, but free hot water and heat from there on out.  It paid itself off in 2013, that's pretty quick.

That IS pretty quick. Is geothermal a viable energy solution in other places too?

I think it is, and I haven't looked into it much, but I think it's available everywhere, but maybe the depth you need to go, and how difficult it is to reach that depth varies depending on the place, so the cost might be too much, or at least would take longer to recover your original outlay for the system.  Nevada has lots of geothermal, there are many of these power plants around here, owned by utility companies.

I don't hear much about it in California, which is a shame.

Nevada is very good at tapping into alternate energy sources like solar and hydro, too.

California actually has the largest geothermal power plant in the world "The Geysers", top states for geothermal: California, Nevada, Utah, Hawaii, and Oregon.

"In 2009, investment bank  Credit Suisse calculated that geothermal power costs 3.6 cents per kilowatt-hour, versus 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for coal."

Well I learned something new thanks to you Janill.

Another article

Reno Hotel Gambles On Green Energy And Saves $2 Million Per Year - Forbes

It was a risk that paid off:

Here’s a simple explanation of how it works:

1 – Water at 174° Fahrenheit (79° Celsius) is pumped from beneath the property, up to 1,200 gallons (4,542 liters) per minute.

2 – In a heat exchanger in the Peppermill’s boiler room, geothermal water heats copper tubes filled with water from the municipal water authority. The two types of water never touch, as one would contaminate the other.

3 – The municipal water is pumped to the hotel buildings, while the geothermal water is pumped back into the aquifer, where nature reheats it for its next use.

Since the Peppermill switched from natural gas for water and heating in 2010, its four behemoth natural gas boilers have sat idle. “They haven’t been turned on in the last three years,” says Dean Parker, Executive Director of Facilities. Geothermal is so reliable that he plans to sell two of the boilers.

So why doesn’t everybody go geothermal? Well, it’s still early days for the technology, making it a gamble, although if there was ever a place to gamble, it’s Reno. The Peppermill’s odds were good since it already had a smaller geothermal facility, and Nevada (along with Oregon and California), is one of the most geothermally active regions in the nation; the U.S. leads the world in geothermal energy, with some 30 percent share.

Yet despite extensive consultation with geologists and geothermal experts, without drilling there was no way to know the volume, temperature or location of the hot water below – or even whether it existed. “If it hadn’t worked,” Parker says, “I’d have been packing my bags.”

Sounds like someone needs to invent a way to measure geothermal activity pre-project, as it can easily be cost prohibitive to drill the well, then find out there's none.

Yes; he would have lost his job if there were none.