Geothermal in Ethiopia, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and More

This post brings you geothermal headlines from Ethiopia, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and more.


Geothermal well on the island of Nevis
Source: The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer

Click below for this week’s international geothermal roundup.

Africa and the Middle East

Ethiopia – International Finance Corporation Predicts Geothermal Will Play a Key Role in the Country’s Carbon Neutral Future

Ethiopia has set an ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025, and geothermal energy development will play a key role in helping the country meet that target, according to the International Finance Corporation (IFC). In a recent release, IFC stated that the Ethiopian government intends to harness over 5,000 MW of geothermal resources over the coming decades, a goal that will require about $20 billion in investments.

IFC is collaborating with the country’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation, and Electricity and the Ethiopian Electricity Agency to produce a regulatory environment that is friendly to investors. In addition, IFC is supporting the government in their plans to enact regulations to encourage private developers to take part in geothermal projects. The overall goal is to integrate the private sector’s technical and financial knowledge while guaranteeing that Ethiopia’s geothermal resources result in broad benefits.

In the following months, IFC and the Ministry will collaborate with civil society stakeholders and the private sector, seeking input regarding the creation of these regulations. The interest of the public is crucial, as demand for affordable energy is on the rise, pushing Ethiopia to seek new energy sources.

Only 24% of Ethiopians currently have access to electricity. In order to increase access, the government has taken large strides in the direction of renewables development. Though most of the country’s renewable energy comes from hydropower, this falters in times of drought, but geothermal is a baseload power source, meaning it is independent of weather or water to produce energy.


Kenya – Kenya Requests Geothermal Funding from European Investment Bank

Kenya recently asked the European Investment Bank (EIB) to cover the cost of the sinking of additional wells for the production of an additional 70 MW at the Olkaria Geothermal Well in Naivasha. After EIB received the proposal, they stated that the environmental impact Assessment Audit had been performed. If the request is approved, the new geothermal unit will receive approximately $76 million from EIB, allowing Africa’s largest renewable energy source to produce 210 MW at a time, supporting Kenya’s growing demand for electricity.

The funding request EIB is considering would cover the installation of a new turbine and the creation of the necessary wells, steam-gathering system and interconnection facilities which would aid Kenya’s goal energy cost reduction. In turn, this would lower Kenya’s reliance on expensive thermal power that produces heavy emissions that hurt the environment.

According to EIB, the project’s approval depends on its compliance with EIB’s environmental and social standards. Kenya must also place the project tender on EU’s Official Journal where a competitive tendering process is employed at all stages of the project. Kenya already encourages the sustainability of geothermal projects through Private-Public Partnerships, an example of which is Nakuru’s Menengai Crater Geothermal Project that is developing 105 MWs of electricity potential.


Tanzania – Geothermal Development Supported By Regional Geothermal Development Project

In Tanzania, the Ministry of Energy and Minerals has signed a cooperation agreement to facilitate geothermal development under the combined Nordic Development Fund (NDF) and Icelandic International Development Agency (ICEIDA) regional Geothermal Exploration Project. This project’s focus is on strengthening East African countries’ geothermal knowledge and capacity in order to support future geothermal utilization. The project also provides active support for the exploration phase of geothermal development.

The Tanzania Geothermal Development Company (TGDC) will implement the program. The intention of this sub-program is to study specific geothermal areas in the country and to locate potential sites for exploration drilling and enhanced capacity to develop geothermal energy production. The sub-project emphasizes capacity-building for Tanzanian experts utilizing hands-on training during surface exploration and supporting lectures on methods and interpretation.


The Americas

Nevis – Nevis Plans for 100% Geothermal-Powered Future

The Caribbean island of Nevis is looking to follow through on its commitment to reducing its country’s carbon footprint by harnessing renewable energy. Mark Brantley, Deputy Premier and Minister of Tourism for Nevis, announced on a visit to New York City that Nevis is well-suited to be the “greenest place on Earth” when its geothermal program begins operation in 2017. The island is uniquely situated to obtain 100% of its energy from geothermal resources and have electricity leftover to provide geothermal power to its Caribbean neighbors.

“We are incredibly proud of the project we’ve undertaken and happy to share this news with the US and the world. Geothermal energy will be transformative for Nevis, bringing it to 100% power generation from clean, less costly renewable energy sources,” Brantley stated. “Looking ahead, we plan to export our expandable energy to neighboring islands, becoming the Norway of the Caribbean.”


USA – University of North Dakota Partners With Department of Energy to Ramp Up Geothermal Electricity Output

A team at the University of North Dakota is collaborating with the Department of Energy to ramp up geothermal electricity production from current levels at a test site in the southwestern part of the state. Their technology pairs geothermal energy with oil production. Though still in its initial stages, the project showcases what the future of clean energy can look like.

Will Gosnold, UND Geologist, spoke to the press about the relevance of his team’s work and the challenges they face: “The energy we can generate out there with several different types of systems is huge. But, like all geothermal endeavors, there’s a huge up front cost. People who are looking to make money quickly, they’re not going to invest in something like that.”

The takeaway is that Gosnold’s project shows that geothermal could one day produce more than coal-fired power plants, without the pollution. Until then, hybrid technologies that combine oil extraction with the Earth’s heat can help the US transition to a clean energy grid. To see Valley New’s video on the project, follow the link below:


Asia and the Pacific

China – 800 MW of Geothermal Capacity Discovered at 672 Sites in Tibet

In newly published studies by Chinese authorities, the officials stated that they have “detected 672 geothermal sites with a combined power generation potential of 800,000 kilowatts (800 MW)” in Tibet. The regional bureau of geology and mineral exploration reported that the focal areas of geothermal potential are “along the plateau railway link in Lhasa, Nyemo, Yambajan, Nagqu and near Cona Lake, in areas near the Yarklunggtsangpo, Lhasa and Nyainchu rivers, as well as the vast uninhabited areas in the north of Tibet.”

The recent survey’s results estimated that the high temperature resources above 150 degrees Celsius represented approximately 80% of China’s geothermal potential. This goes against widespread beliefs that high-temperature geothermal areas are only located in volcanic areas with low altitudes, whereas Tibet’s average altitude is 4,000 m. With a geothermal potential in the area equaling 853 billion tons of coal, China plans to tap into Tibet’s geothermal resources to support its investments in renewable energy.


Indonesia – Government Auctioning Off Geothermal Power Blocks

Over the next two years, the Indonesian government will auction off 21 geothermal blocks to investors, estimated to require $4.2 billion in investment. This comprises a power generation capacity of 1,065 MW. According to a Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources official, the majority of the blocks will be offered through an open auction. The initial auction is expected to take place in March 2016.

Renewable energy is predicted to comprise 23% of Indonesia’s total primary energy by 2025, whereas it is at 5% currently. One of the main means intended to expand Indonesia’s renewable energy portfolio is the development of the country’s geothermal sources. Indonesia contains approximately 40% of the world’s geothermal reserves. The majority of these reserves remain unharnessed due to a lack of financial resources, the complex investment climate, and uncompetitive power tariffs. Indonesia currently derives energy from 5% of its country’s geothermal potential, 1,439 MW of a 29,475 MW total potential.


Taiwan – TaiPower Exploring Two Areas for Geothermal Potential

State-owned TaiPower recently announced comprehensive plans for renewable energy investment, comprising approximately $12 billion over the next 15 years. Included in these plans are the intentions to explore geothermal potential in the volcanic areas of Taitung and Yangmingshan in Taipei over the course of the next four years.


The Philippines – Unified Leyte Geothermal Power Plants Auctions Off 40 MW Capacity

The Philippines’ Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) is requesting permission from the country’s Department of Energy (DoE) to auction a management contract for the remaining 40 MW capacity of the Unified Leyte geothermal power plants, which is undergoing privatization. Lourdes Alzona, PSALM’s president, stated to reporters that her agency was looking to the Energy Department for guidance on the addition of 40 MW of ‘security capacity’ to the bidding of the 160 MW bulk energy constituting the Unified Leyte power project.

“For 2016, we target to privatize that subject to further policy direction of DoE. Because in our proposal to the board, we will include the remaining 40 MW, so it will be the bulk plus the 40-MW security asset,” Alzona said. She announced that the bulk energy auction was slated for negotiated bidding in the first semester of 2016 while the balance of 40 MW would need approval of the DoE. Alzona stated that PSALM had decided to sell the security assets due to a security requirement in Luzon as in the Visayas PSALM didn’t see the need anymore.

In the ongoing process, PSALM has already privatized the Unified Leyte power plant’s 200-MW strips of energy contracts. Earlier to date, PSALM bid out a bulk energy contract where only one group placed an offer. PSALM received permission to perform a negotiated bidding with a unit of Energy Development Corp: lone bidder Unified Leyte Geothermal Energy Inc.. However, the company backed out of the privatization due to damage suffered by the plants during 2013’s typhoon Yolanda. The withdrawal of Unified Leyte Geothermal spurred PSALM to rebid the bulk energy at the beginning of 2016. As it now stands, PSALM has successfully awarded 200 MW of total capacity from the Unified Leyte geothermal plant to winning bidders.


The Philippines – Mindoro Geothermal Plant to Come Online in 2017

A power supply agreement to be made official by Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative, Inc. (OMECO) with power providers Mindoro Geothermal Power Corporation (MGPC) and Occidental Mindoro Consolidated Power Corporation (OCMPC) will be supported by a National Electrification Administration (NEA) guarantee. The parent firm of MGPC, Emerging Power, Inc. (EPI), has confirmed the state-run’s approval of its bid for guarantee on their power supply deal.

“The PSA guarantee for OMECO is the first that NEA released under its new charter,” the firm stated. “NEA’s revised charter is under Republic Act 10531 also known as the National Electrification Administration Reform Act of 2013.” MGPC is moving forward on its planned 4 MW geothermal plant in Mindoro, planned to come online in 2017. This new addition is expected to strengthen the province’s energy supply and lessen the repeated power outages in the area.



Australian Renewable Energy Agency Supports Mapping Project of Country’s Geothermal Resources

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) voiced its support on Jan. 19 of a project to map the country’s available geothermal resources with a $311,000 commitment in funding. The University of Adelaide-led project’s overall worth is approximately $1,121,000 with an intention of creating maps of the distribution, orientation and connectivity of fractures in four important sedimentary basins around the country. The goal is to study and gain a thorough understanding of the structural permeability in these key areas, which is necessary when identifying resources and reducing geothermal project risks before drilling.

ARENA observed that Australian geothermal projects face deep underground drilling challenges related to the cost and risk associated with the practice, unlike projects in countries where geothermal heat is located nearer to the surface. The ARENA-backed project will in addition create a “toolkit” to aid developers in predicting permeability pathways in important Australian sedimentary basins. According to the announcement, the mapping study, in tandem with other ARENA-supported geothermal projects, will “serve as a go-to source for future developments, providing a head start on viability and risk assessments.”


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