International roundup: Geothermal in Washington, Nicaragua, Kazakhstan, Turkey and more

This post brings you geothermal updates from Washington, Ethiopia, Kenya, Canada, Caribbean islands, Mexico, Nicaragua, Indonesia, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Azerbaijan.

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

U.S. States

*Washington State: Company to Build Drilling Rockets
HyperSciences, based in Spokane, is raising funds to build technology that will drill for geothermal energy using rockets. CEO Mark Russell, whose background includes Boeing and NASA, told press the “Ram accelerator system” will result in drilling 10 times faster than current speeds. The company has raised $880,000 and expects to raise another $370,000 over the next few weeks for a total of $1.25 million. Investors include Shell, the Alliance of Angels in Spokane, W Funds, Washington Research Foundation and Seattle tech entrepreneur Mike McSherry.

Africa

*Ethiopia: Agreement Signed with Reykjavik for First 500 MW at Corbetti
The Ethiopian government and U.S.-Icelandic firm Reykjavik signed a construction agreement for the first 500-MW phase of the Corbetti geothermal power plant, which will total 1,000 MW when complete. The Corbetti project was also one of the first projects included in the Power Africa initiative in 2013. U.S. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, a previous chair of the Senate committee on energy, was quoted in press: “I’m very excited to be part of the US-Ethiopia partnership, and I hope the country moves in leaps and bounds, in Gigabytes in telecom, Gigawatts in electricity.”

*Kenya: Lowering Emissions is Subject to International Support
Kenya has pledged to cut emissions by 30% by 2030 through expanding its geothermal power production as well as additional measures. The nation’s official Intended Nationally Determined Contribution notes Kenya’s emissions are “relatively low” and says the commitment is “subject to international support in the form of finance, investment, technology development and transfer, and capacity building.”

The Americas

*Canada: Economist Supports Geothermal in Alberta
Alberta has no program for geothermal energy, unlike its neighbor British Columbia, but some geothermal supporters want to change that. Todd Hirsch, chief economist with ATB Financial told press that while Alberta lacks geothermal experience, “We have experience drilling through four miles [6.4 km] worth of rock to get at other things that are valuable.” He added, “If we can make it work here in Alberta, then it is a cinch to sell the technology to the Chinese and the Germans and everyone elsewhere geothermal doesn’t work.”

*The Caribbean: Geothermal Touted as Alternate to Imported Oil
Caribbean islands are looking to more geothermal in a move away from imported oil. In a local news article, Senior Energy Specialist at the World Bank Migara Jaywardena gives the example of 10 million dollars allocated to Dominica from the clean technology fund to support geothermal. “That’s a perfect example of where climate funds could be mobilised to support clean energy in the islands,” Jaywardena is quoted. President of the Ocean Geothermal Energy Foundation Jim Shnell adds that Caribbean economies are severely affected by the cost of fuel. “The oil that you import and burn turns right around and contributes to global warming and the potential flooding of the islands, whereas you have some great potential resources there in terms of solar and wind and certainly geothermal,” he said.

*Mexico: CFE Concessions Awarded, Private Sector Getting Involved
Mexico’s energy ministry has awarded five geothermal concessions and 13 permits for exploration to national power utility Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE). CFE is now considering partners for geothermal fields. In November, CFE will award the construction of the next plant in this area, Los Azufres III Phase II, notes SeeNews.com. Remaining geothermal resources, thought to be up to 5,000 MW, are to be offered to private investors.

*Nicaragua: Government Sends Mixed Signal on Renewables Investments
Via Marcelo Lippmann — An article on www.laprensa.com.ni clarifies an apparent contradiction in Nicaragua’s renewable energy policy. Independent Liberal Party (PLI) has proposed a five-year extension of incentives (reform law 532); while at the same time the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) published lowered reference prices for the purchase of clean energy, discouraging investments. This particularly affects both wind and geothermal energy, the article states. The new prices do not affect existing contracts, and private sector leader Jose Adan Aguerri reacted asking for revision. The new reference prices, which started to be enforced on May 26, control how much developers would get from the distribution companies. According to  http://www.mem.gob.ni, for geothermal, these prices are between 74 and 92 US$/MWh.

*Nicaragua: CIF Contributes Funds for Geothermal Study
Via Marcelo Lippmann — The Climate Investment Funds (CIF; www-cif.climateinvestmentfunds.org/) has approved $30 million to invest in Nicaragua’s renewable energy projects. Funds will be used to study the geothermal resources in the areas around Laguna de Apoyo, the country’s largest volcanic crater lake, and those in the western parts of Nicaragua.

Asia and the Pacific

*Indonesia: UK Considers Geothermal Investment
Indonesia may be getting an investment from the UK government of up to £1 billion toward finance infrastructure projects, including potential investment in geothermal power projects worth £66 million. UK Prime Minister David Cameron is planning a trip to Jakarta as part of a tour to southeast Asia this week.

*New Zealand: Far North Aims for Electrical Self-Sufficiency in Ngawha Expansion Plan
Top Energy is planning a geothermal energy expansion project once it receives consents from the Northland Regional and Far North District councils. Two new geothermal power plants at Ngawha, east of Kaikohe would generate 25 MW each, as much as the two existing plants combined, for a total 75 MW. This plan could make the Far North self-reliant in electricity, as well as create jobs, including a new industrial park, chief executive Russell Shaw told press.

Europe and Central Asia

*Kazakhstan: Geothermal Included in RES Legislation
Kazakhstan is including geothermal energy in its RES legislation. The country is targetting a 3% share of renewable energy in total electricity by 2020, while the current share of renewable energy use in Kazakhstan is less than 1%.

*Turkey and Azerbaijan: Agreement Signals Geothermal Investments
Istanbul-based Turcas Petrol has signed an agreement with Azalternativenerji, part of Azerbaijan’s State Agency on Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources (SAARES), and aims to start producing electricity from geothermal energy in 2017. A statement said, “In the first phase of this strategy, we plan an investment worth $65 million in a geothermal power plant project that we are conducting in Kuyucak, Aydın.”

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