Geothermal in New Zealand, Ethiopia, Canada, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Taiwan, and More

This post brings you geothermal headlines from New Zealand, Ethiopia, Canada, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Taiwan, and more.

Olkaria Geothermal Spa
Olkaria Geothermal Spa in Kenya
Photo by Jan Michael Fox

Click below for this week’s international geothermal roundup.

Africa and the Middle East

Ethiopia – Country Harbors Potential to Produce Over 10,000 MW of Geothermal Energy

A new study conducted by the Geological Survey of Ethiopia (GSE) discovered that the country contains the potential to generate approximately 10,000 MW of geothermal energy.  The study, which took place in the high temperature rift valley, doubled Ethiopia’s capacity from 5,000 MW, which was the previous estimate according to a 25 year old study that spanned 16 areas.  GSE collects geoscience information from various areas across the country and distributes their data to stakeholders, who now have a viable reason to invest in geothermal development.


Ethiopia – Cluff Geothermal Ltd. and African Union Commission Sign Grant Contract

Recently, Cluff Geothermal Ltd. and the African Union Commission’s (AUC) Department of Infrastructure and Energy approved a Grant Contract covering approximately $860,00 in financial support to fund surface studies and upgrades to infrastructure at the Ethiopian Fantale geothermal prospect, which is owned by Cluff.  AUC’s Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr. Elham M. A. Ibrahim, praised Cluff Geothermal Ltd for their support of Ethiopian geothermal development, which will improve the quality of life of Ethiopia’s citizens.


The Americas

Canada – Southern Alberta to Benefit from Geothermal Greenhouse Technology

Ag Spectra Ltd., a Canadian team of high-energy executives and engineers, presented their ideas for a greener Canada to a rapt audience including politicians.  One of Spectra’s sustainable ideas is a type of geothermal greenhouse called the Starfield Center that cultivates locally grown produce for the communities it operates in.

Lonnie Mesick, CEO of Spectra, hopes to see as many as 70 Starfield Centers in Southern Alberta.  The flagship greenhouse is being constructed in Magrath, whose other apt name is Green City.

“The majority of our heat will come from… a low grade geothermal all over Southern Alberta, about 40 to 50 Celsius, and that’s much more than we need,” Mesick said.  The greenhouses will be kept around 23 degrees Celsius.  “We signed a [50-year] lease last August for about 39 acres of municipal reserve land,” Mesick explained. “We’re working with our engineering group now and hopefully within the next few weeks we can break ground for the first two, or three, greenhouses.”

When operational, the Starfield Center will grow diverse produce, from an Orchard House and Berry House to a Veggie House and Vine House.  In the interior there will even be a community park, fully accessible to the public.  Each center will cover approximately 20 acres, and the cost of the project is predicted to be $5 million and produce much more than non-geothermal greenhouses, which usually have a price point of $1 million.


El Salvador – Secretary of Communications Expects 40% Geothermal Electricity by 2019

El Salvador recently set a goal of sourcing 40% of their electricity from geothermal energy by 2019.  The El Salvadoran Presidency’s Secretary of Communications stated that the national government predicts an increase of 15% in geothermal energy’s contribution to the country’s electricity sources.


Nicaragua – Country’s Estimated Geothermal Capacity Measured at 1,700 MW

A new overview of Nicaragua’s renewable energy puts its geothermal capacity at 1,700 MW, which comprises the second most widespread energy option in the country.  In Energia Limpia’s (EL) Geothermal Master Plan, EL highlights ten hotspots of geothermal importance following the Pacific volcanic chain.  Two of the identified areas are already in operation: San Jacinto Tizate and Momotombo, and several others are under private company inspection for exploratory geoscience research.


United States – Drilling Project in North Dakota Exploring Geothermal Potential in Crystalline Rock

A Department of Energy project in North Dakota is assessing the Bakken Formation’s crystalline rock for nuclear waste storage and geothermal potential.  The Battelle laboratories will collaborate with the University of North Dakota (UND) Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC), Schlumberger and Solexperts, a Swiss geologic testing company in the drilling operations.  The deep borehole project costs $35 million and is intended to span a five year period, occurring on 20 acres of state-owned land.


Asia and the Pacific

Taiwan – National Taiwan Ocean University Plans to Develop Geothermal Power

On Jan. 21, Geothermal Engineering Taiwan Limited(GETL) and  National Taiwan Ocean University (NTOU) finalized an agreement to collaborate on utilizing geothermal as a source of electricity on the island nation.  Going forward, they will identify prime locations to drill with the help of academia, who will play a key role in the country’s geothermal development.  According to the working agreement, NTOU intends to create a geothermal power plant to meet the electricity needs of its campus and 8,000 students.


New Zealand – Highest Recorded Geothermal Power Generated by Mighty River Power

Mighty River Power measured a quarterly record of geothermal power production after releasing its recent financial report, with a geothermal power plant availability level of 98%.  This constitutes the “highest-ever quarter of geothermal generation, up 12% on the prior comparable period (pcp), to 728 GWh.”



Iceland – Geothermal Technology Boosting Agriculture and Fish Farming in the Country

Iceland has mastered the art of geothermal greenhouse agriculture, as displayed on a recent press tour in which journalists explored Iceland’s unconventional geothermal facilities.  With poor soil and a poor climate for farming, Iceland has adapted by utilizing geothermal technology to grow vegetables in greenhouses warmed and powered by the heat of the earth.

With new exports, this agricultural innovation has created new international business opportunities for the country.  For example, a 12 acre tomato greenhouse is in the works, funded by Iceland-based investors. The new project, located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, has an approximate funding value of $17.1 million, and would provide tomatoes to the UK market.

Iceland currently harbors the potential to introduce 10 expansive greenhouses like the tomato project and six large fish farms, whose creations would significantly boost Iceland’s seafood, vegetable, and fruit production.  To read the article in full, which also covers the country’s general geothermal use, follow the link below.


Italy – Enel Green Power Invests Millions in Improving Tuscany Geothermal Infrastructure

GEA member Enel Green Power has allocated investments of approximately $550 million, the majority of which will go towards upgrading environmental performance standards and maximizing efficiency of their geothermal plants in Tuscany, Italy.  The funding will support the improvement of facilities in the Siena, Pisa, and Grosseto provinces over the course of the next five years.  Currently, Enel’s 37 production groups in the region generate 27% of the region’s electricity needs.


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