Geothermal in Kenya, Argentina, Japan, the Philippines, and Turkey

This post brings you geothermal headlines from Kenya, Argentina, Japan, the Philippines, and Turkey.
Gumuskoy geothermal plant, Turkey
Image Credit: Ormat

Africa and the Middle East

Kenya – Akiira Geothermal Limited Receives Sh 138 Million for Exploratory Purposes

Akiira Geothermal Limited was recently awarded a Sh 138 million grant from the African Union Commission (AUC) for exploratory drilling purposes underway in Naivasha.

The AUC grant is a component of the Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility and its goal is to mitigate financial risks that early stage private sector developers face when drilling in attempts to find geothermal steam fitted for power production.

The firm first began initial exploratory drilling in August 2015 as part of a bid to build a 70 MW geothermal power plant.

Akiira Geothermal Chief Executive Robert Bunyi told Capital FM Business that, to date, two wells have been drilled, with a third to be completed in April 2016.

“In total we are expecting to drill about 15 wells, this is an expensive project we are grateful for the grant from the AUC, we still need more financing as the whole project costs $300 million,” Bunyi said, stressing that the planned plant will add another 70MW by December 2018 to the national grid.

In August 2015, Akiira Geothermal Limited initialed a power purchase agreement with Kenya Power at the cost of 9.23 US cents per kilowatt hour.

In October 2014, the firm received a Sh 86 million grant from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) as a piece in President Obama’s Power Africa program that facilitated the payments required for the technical and legal work necessary before drilling commenced.

Akiira Geothermal is owned by Centum Investments in along with three non-Kenyan entities including Ram Energy alongside Marine Power of the USA, and Frontier Investment Management.

Centum Investments Director Chris Kirubi stated that the fund will allow the firm to begin its second stage exploratory drilling with the goal of discovering a minimum of 77 MW of steamy energy sufficient to drive the power plant for 25 years.

Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge drew on investors to fund Greenfield energy, highlighting the support of the government. “I assure you we have the most robust and dependable framework by investors in the continent. Nobody can beat us in matters of power purchase agreements,” Njoroge made clear.



Argentina – European Investors Eye $445 Million Geothermal Project in Chubut Province

A European investment group may take on a geothermal project totaling $445 million in Argentina’s Chubat province. Local new sources reported the development after a visit to the area paid by the company Bio Green, who met with the province’s local governor and authorities. Company officials emphasized their robust interest in the design and implementation of a geothermal power project. Carrying a total maximum investment of $445m, a project like this would most likely take about ten years to implement.

Furthermore, it would require detailed feasibility work and a pilot project design within the coming years before it could become a reality.


Asia and the Pacific

Japan – New Geothermal Plant in Oita

Idemitsu Kosan Co. has commenced building a geothermal power plant in Japan’s Oita prefecture in the southwest region.

The 5 MW plant is slated to come online in March 2017, according to an official Idemitsu statement.

The new project will comprise one of the largest binary power plants in Japan. Binary cycle plants can successfully harness lower-temperature geothermal resources that are cooler than those usually found in power generation using underground heat.


Philippines – LEGP Commences Development in Camiguin Province

A low enthalpy geothermal project (LEGP) will begin development in the Camiguin island province of the country, a geothermal hotbed of potential energy with seven volcanoes and several volcanic domes.   Utilizing binary technology and other direct-use applications, the new LEGP undertaking will generate thousands of megawatts of electricity, higher than the amount needed to provide electricity to over 100,000 inhabitants in the region.

Sources for the LEGP were discovered by officials and technical experts from the Renewable Energy Management Bureau (REMB) of the Department of Energy (DOE) who undertook a series exploratory assessments of the Mambajao and Catarman towns alongside nearby areas of the province.

The DOE representatives highlighted Camiguin as one of the potential areas for locally-supported LEGP. In a recent official statement released to the public by the Philippine Information Agency, Geothermal Energy Management Division Chief Ariel D. Fronda explained that geothermal energy could benefit the country in a variety of ways, like providing electricity from power plants.

The DOE is currently studying other geothermal resources in the area. DOE-REMB will be examining rock types, structures, volcanic history and the geohydrology of Camiguin through imaging technology and geologic probing.

Additionally, a measurement of temperature and chemistry of the underground reservoir fluids from water and gas samples will be needed, to be gathered alongside an assessment of the fluids flow rates in the subsurface and an estimation of the reservoir’s shape and size.

The DOE’s goal is to create a policy and guidelines to take advantage of low-to-medium enthalpy geothermal resources for small-scale power generation, agro-industrial uses and direct application. The agency also intends to offer potential geothermal areas to investors for energy exploration, development, and utilization which could stimulate the economy, providing jobs and a flush of capital.



Turkey – Ormat Aids BM Holding in Geothermal Project

Ormat recently reported on a successful repowering project for BM Holding in Turkey, aiding the company in overcoming several technical challenges in the operation with last supplier.

The geothermal power project of Gümüsköy in Turkey is an example of the difficulties geothermal projects face. The project dealt with technical trouble with equipment installed and not reaching stable operation since the beginning of operations in May 2013. Despite the commencement of commercial operation in May 2013, BM Holding, the project’s owner, accrued major losses and in the end contacted GEA member Ormat.

7 months after receiving the official notice to proceed, Ormat successfully repowered two units in BM Gümüsköy in Turkey: both units were commissioned and supplied by another company.

In the early months of 2014 in a meeting with BM, Gad Shoshan, Regional Sales Director for Ormat was told “that [BM] was bothered by the operational problems of the existing units and asked if [Ormat] could use its experience to help.”

“We have great respect to other companies in the renewable energy sector, including the ones considered as our competitors, so initially we had no intention jumping into this project” said Shoshan “but out of friendship and respect to BM, I asked our engineering team to visit the site while they are in the area”.

Ormat Process and Analytical engineers journeyed to the site in July 2014 and encountered operators struggling with existing equipment. The team assessed the equipment condition and examined the site problems.

“Since we are continuously analyzing our own operating units we immediately identified what optional modifications and improvements can be implemented” said Shimon Hatzir, Ormat EVP of engineering “I asked our engineers to define the required equipment for maximum production from the geothermal field”. BM asked Ormat to draft a fresh design with the replacement of the existing equipment at a minimum. Ormat successfully completed their request and BM gave it the task of repowering the plant.

The two units are now running with Ormat’s ORC turbines utilizing Butane motive fluid, which is environmentally friendly in comparison to the R134a previously employed, which produces a high global warming effect. In addition, he average corrected power production is 10% higher than design.

Shoshan elaborates that “Ormat adheres to a conservative philosophy in its business practices, recognizing that production targets are uncertain until a geothermal project is well past the bidding stages. Our experience has proven that our units can deliver increased power with relatively easy modifications, and we work closely with our clients to find the best ways for them to capture production gains.”

Shoshan also stressed Ormat’s practice of supporting clients regardless of the difficulty of the issue being addressed. “Ormat is prepared to put our proven and advanced technology to work for clients at every stage of the geothermal power production cycle, from project scoping, development, equipment sourcing and construction through commissioning and post-start-up troubleshooting.”