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Unusual Funding For Unusual Proof-of-Concept Power Plant

A renewable energy consultant and the Oregon Institute of Technology have come up with an unusual financing plan for an even more unusual power plant idea. The U.S. Department of Energy got the ball rolling by awarding a small research and development grant for the proposed power plant on the Klamath Falls campus.

The plan is to retrofit Oregon Tech's existing geothermal power plant with a solar thermal array -- parabolic mirrors in a long trough shape focused on tubes. The point is to make the geothermal well water hotter to produce more electricity.

Ridgefield, Washington energy developer Marc Rappaport says, "The vast majority of geothermal resources throughout the country - and actually the world - are low temperature resources."

Rappaport says adding solar is like putting "a turbo charger on an engine." He calls the result a geothermal-solar thermal hybrid power plant.

Rappaport is counting on an internet crowdfunding campaign to raise the $250,000 needed to buy and install the necessary equipment. But the crowd sourced fundraising is off to a slow start.

On the Web:

Science crowdfunding campaign - RocketHub
Proposal for a Geothermal-Solar Hybrid - Rappaport Renewable Energy Consulting
Oregon Renewable Energy Center - Oregon Institute of Technology

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.