International roundup: Geothermal in Colorado, Texas, Mexico, Japan, France, the UK and more

This post brings you geothermal headlines from Colorado, Texas, Canada, Mexico, Nicaragua, Japan, New Zealand, France, Iceland and the UK.

Geothermal photos from Twitter users

Click below to read this week’s international geothermal roundup.

U.S. States

*Colorado: Capitol Building GHP Saves Energy and Costs
A geothermal heating and cooling system at the historic Colorado State Capitol Building saved the city $95,000 during the first year. The system came online in summer 2013 as the first LEED-certified state capitol.

*Texas: SMU Geothermal Lab Director Named President-Elect of GRC
Coordinator of the SMU Geothermal Laboratory Maria Richards has been named president-elect of the Geothermal Resources Council, with her term beginning in 2017. “The Geothermal Resources Council is a tremendous forum for expanding ideas about geothermal exploration and technology related to this commonly overlooked source of energy provided by the Earth,” Richards said. “It’s a great opportunity for educating people about an energy source that covers the whole gamut – from producing electricity for industries, to reducing our electricity consumption with direct-use applications, to even cooling our homes.”

The Americas

*Canada: Saskatchewan Project Seeking $5 Million
A geothermal project in Saskatchewan by Deep Earth En​ergy Corp is planned as a 5-MW pilot plant and could be the first geothermal plant in Canada. The underground aquifer was first discovered by U.S. oil company Amerada Petroleum in the ’50s. Feasibility studies have thus far cost $4 million and Deep Earth still needs to raise $5 million more from investors.

*Mexico: First Private Geothermal Project Updated
A press release following an event of the Mexican Geothermal Association updated the progress on the first private geothermal project in Mexico: “Juan Luis de Valle from Grupo Dragón, the owner of the first private geothermal project in Mexico located in Domo San Pedro, Nayarit . . . informed that the first 5-MW back-pressure unit had been commissioned a couple of weeks ago, and the second 5-MW unit was in pre-operative tests.”

*Nicaragua: San Jacinto-Tizate Sees Revenue Increase; New Wells Planned
Ran Power provided a recent update on its Nicaragua geothermal plant: “The San Jacinto-Tizate Power Plant generated 429,740 (net) MWh resulting in revenue of $48.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2014 (an increase of 4% over the same period in 2013) compared to revenue of $46.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. The revenue increase was caused by the 3% annual tariff increase coupled with a slight increase in production as a result of wells being offline for the San Jacinto drilling remediation program in 2013. The plant generated operating income in 2014 of $7.4 million, a 23% increase ($1.4 million) from $6 million generated in 2013, and cash flows from operations of $13.2 million increased 56% ($4.7 million) from $8.4 million in 2013.” The company plans to drill two new wells.

Asia and the Pacific

*Japan: Country Raising African Investments
A research article shows project finance investments sponsored by Asian funds in Africa has increased by over 160% in 10 years, much of it attributable to Japanese investors. Japan is a strong geothermal player in the market.

*New Zealand: Geothermal Contributes More Than Natural Gas
A representative of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment stated that geothermal contributed more electricity to the grid than natural gas during 2014 — “the first time that this has happened in 40 years.” He said, “At almost 80%, the share of renewable electricity generation in 2014 was the highest since 1996.”


*France: New Risk Insurance Fund Announced
France has announced a new risk insurance fund dedicated to deep geothermal energy. GEODEEP focuses on the exploration and exploitation phases and is financed by ADEME (a public institution), La Caisse des Dépôts (a public bank) and private operators. European Geothermal Energy Council posted a statement: “EGEC warmly welcomes this new support scheme for geothermal energy in France. GEODEEP will indeed facilitate project operators’ investment decisions by significantly reducing the risk profile of deep geothermal projects. The fund is also expected to ensure the opening of ten new deep geothermal plants, and the creation of more than 800 new jobs. By launching GEODEEP, the French government clearly demonstrates its commitment to foster the development of renewables and proves the key role that geothermal plays in achieving the energy transition towards a low-carbon economy.”

*Iceland: More Companies Drawn to Clean Energy for Data Centers
Iceland is one of several regions drawing energy-intensive data centers to use its clean energy resources. This week Icelandic minister of industries and innovation Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir told Techworld: “We can feel that there’s growing interest. There are an increasing number of data centre companies coming here. You see the investment with Verne Global.”

*UK: MOU Recycles Exhausted Oil Wells for Geothermal
Geothermal Engineering based in Cornwall has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Cuadrilla for plans to use geothermal heat from exhausted oil and gas wells. Ryan Law, managing director of Geothermal Engineering told press: “The possibility of using existing wells enables us to not only deliver renewable geothermal heat at a much lower cost but also to recycle wells that would otherwise be wasted.” Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said the project supported bridging technology uses to help the UK transition to a low carbon economy.

*UK: British Geological Survey Details Geothermal Sources
An article by Jon Busby of the British Geological Survey details the geothermal heat sources in the UK. Cornwall is considered the most prospective region for power generation, while direct utilization of geothermal heat has most potential in east Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Dorset and the eastern counties of Northern Ireland. Further areas could have features such as limestone and laterally flowing water that could increase their potential for geothermal use. Busby notes that government has introduced a 5p/kWh tariff for deep geothermal as part of the Renewable Heat Incentive.

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