This post brings you geothermal headlines from Pakistan, Tunisia, Canada, Chile, St. Kitts and Nevis, South Korea, Germany, Scotland.
Drill pad of German geothermal project.
Photo credit: Erdwaerme Gross Gerau
Africa and the Middle East
Pakistan – 100,000 MW of Untapped Geothermal Potential, Reveals New Study
Pakistan has been found to contain huge geothermal energy resources that could possibly generate 100,000 MW of electricity at a rate of 5-10 cents per unit depending upon the varying locations of the power plants, reveals the research of Pakistani scientist Javed Ahmad, recently published in the US.
Most importantly, the US has offered Pakistan $7-8 billion in equipment for the exploration of the burgeoning geothermal energy resources in the country. Aforementioned resources are abundant in all four federational units of Pakistan.
The Earth’s geothermal energy resources are 80 times higher than all known oil reserves in the world. According to recent estimates, the total geothermal energy potential available around the world could exceed present electricity generation and direct energy produced by all the resources. Geothermal energy resources have been identified in 90 countries spanning the globe.
The research of Javed Ahmad was acknowledged by US experts during the US-Pakistan clean energy business opportunities conference held on December 1-2, 2015 in Washington DC. Now Pakistan’s Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif has included geothermal energy in the policy for the country’s development of renewable energy for power generation, comprising a milestone decision of the incumbent government. The government’s decision to include geothermal in the renewable policy mix will create a series of opportunities for investors to exploit the potential of this abundant Pakistani resource for electricity production.
Javed Ahmad said that h has been evaluating the criteria of clean geothermal energy resources of Pakistan over the last five years and presented his research in the international forum. Thanks to his efforts, geothermal energy for power generation has been recognized as a clean renewable resource available at-large in Pakistan.
“The US experts have acknowledged my research according to which the presence of hot water and steam, springs, famaroles and geysers have been identified in Northern Himalayas,” Javed said. The research highlighted mud volcanoes, hot geothermal fluids in the Balochistan province and dormant volcanoes, and hot magmatic waters at 150 degrees centigrade in the Chagai volcanic arc in the Balochistan province. The research additionally pinpointed hydrocarbon basin related co-produced geothermal waters with temperatures of 80-170 degrees centigrade in Sindh. There are also 300 dry, depleted and abandoned oil and gas wells which have the potential for geothermal energy development.
Javed also offered his services to immediately generate 5,000 MW of electricity and provide heating and cooling of federal, provincial, defense and diplomatic buildings from geothermal energy available locally in Pakistan to reduce energy shortages and conserve oil and gas resources to be used for other industries.
Tunisia – Geothermal-Grown Early Vegetable Exports Increase 43% in Gabes
Exports of geothermal early vegetables, with cultivation specific to the delegation of El Hamma in the governorate of Gabes, increased from last year by 43% compared to last season according to Hafedh Hamdi, the officer overseeing extension and agricultural promotion at the Regional Agriculture Authority (CRDA) in Gabes, Tunisia.
From the initial growth of the season until March 10, 2016, about 7,140 tons of early vegetables were exported from Gabes to European markets, the Gulf and Russia, contrasting 4,968 tons exported during the early growth period of 2015’s season, Hamdi said.
The cultivated areas of geothermal early vegetables have expanded to 133 hectares this season, of which 10 hectares are operated by companies using newly developed, highly profitable production techniques at 250 tons/hectare.
According to estimates of the CRDA Gabes, geothermal early vegetables production will reach approximately 30,000 tons this season, of which 12,000 will be exported.
During last year’s season, 11,000 tons of early vegetables were exported, most of which were high-quality tomatoes.
Canada – Momentum Builds for Geothermal in Valemount, British Columbia
Following a popular geothermal workshop in Valemount, British Columbia last month, several local residents are investigating how to develop geothermal opportunities in the region.
Two residents, each young mothers and business owners, formed a delegation to Valemount Council on Feb. 23rd, to try to keep the momentum rolling. Rundi Anderson and Christine Pelletier explain that they see potential at Valemount Community Forest’s new industrial park in Cedarside to construct a geothermal plant which would attract businesses that could utilize inexpensive heat while feeding off the waste of the other businesses in the park.
As a hypothetical case, Anderson says her brewery’s expansion could keep down costs of heating water and lower their carbon footprint with the help of geothermal technology. Their waste heat, carbon dioxide and compost grain could be utilized by greenhouses. Pelletier’s family operates two small greenhouses and could feasibly harness geothermal heat to produce food year-round, expanding their crops to fruits and vegetables that typically must be imported to the Robson Valley.
“Valemount has existing businesses that are willing to get involved and potentially inspire other local people interested in direct use heat,” says Anderson. She explains that they see potential that might require an expanded organization to help manage all of.
Following their presentation, Councillor Hollie Blanchette advised they create a committee or interest group to examine options and opportunities. As per Blanchette’s suggestion, on March 6th, Anderson gathered a group of nearly 20 people to discuss ideas and options.
At the informal gathering, a pair of strong themes emerged – how to bring to life a geothermal industrial park and how to reclaim the hot springs on the west side of the Kinbasket Reservoir.
Several residents from the group went to the Council’s next meeting on March 8th to demonstrate support for another delegation on the topic and staff’s request to dedicate time to developing a direct-use project.
Silvio Gislimberti, Valemount’s Economic Development Officer, presented several survey results from the workshop to the Council displaying a strong community to continue investigating geothermal opportunities. Gislimberti explained why he believes Valemount is in a good spot to harness geothermal, as Valemount is located on a suitable fault line, and it’s likely they will find an average of 40 degrees Celsius heat per kilometer drilled – perfect for geothermal heatng.
Gislimberti further explained that the local community forest contains the property, local businesses are interested, and one of the Columbia Basin Trust’s new priorities is renewable energy, so that comprises a potential future funding source. Gislimberti believes constructing geothermal technology constitutes a good job creation opportunity, a way to attract more residents to the valley, and a method to develop the marketing and branding of a unique “Valemount Experience”. In addition, geothermal energy is an efficient, renewable, non-polluting energy source, Gislimberti says.
After his presentation, Council members stated that “Exploring Geothermal” is one of their new priorities, and Mayor Jeannette Townsend noted they passed a resolution last summer to establish an economic development committee. Mayor Townsend explained she wants to see things happening within weeks rather than months or years.
Over the course of the meeting, the Council agreed to dedicate some of the EDO’s time to explore organizational options to form a local committee or society covering geothermal direct heat usage in Valemount.
During public comment, several residents spoke out in favor of working to develop local geothermal resources.
“We were down there again today and we’re hitting temperatures in excess of 50 degrees Celsius,” states David Craig, asking if Council could allocate funding to start a drill program, or anything to get the project launched. “It would be a great asset to our community.”
“I think it’s wonderful that Council is considering this geothermal thing,” says Elke Germain. “We want our children to come home, we want jobs, we want them back in our community, and that is one way to do it.”
Chile – Technological Advances at Cerro Pabellón in High Altitude Operations Thanks to English Manufacturer
An English manufacturer of several varieties of power equipment like turbogenerators and switchgear is streamlining the process of energy development at the Cerro Pabellón geothermal facility in Chile.
The company in question is Brush, with headquarters in Loughborough, England. Brush is providing a pair of specially-modified, 27.6 MW, four-pole, 1500 r/min generators to the geothermal site with a rated voltage of 9500 V and a power output of 32,471 kVA. The generators are powered by 15 MW turbines and have been created to survive the harrowing conditions that come with extracting geothermal energy in high altitude locations.
When constructing equipment used for power production at such locations, it is vital that the machinery endure harsh elements like those presented at Cerro Pabellón.
Nestled in the Andean plateau a high 4500 m above sea level in the northern part of Chile at Cerro Pabellón, the first geothermal plant in South America is under development supported by a $320 million investment and financed by GEA member Enel Green Power’s resources. Cerro Pabellón is considered the first binary geothermal plant in the world to be constructed at such a towering altitude. The plant is slated for completion in 2017.
As regions of geothermal activity can contain toxic natural gases, Brush stated its generators are prepared to handle these corrosive environments and are fully adapted for extra protection against hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and sulphur dioxides (SO2), which carry a large operational hazard.
When H2S and SO2 are abundant, they can bond with water which greatly damage equipment when it condenses on cool surfaces, the company said, elaborating that the Brush four-pole generators contain specialist anti-corrosive paint layers to guard against long-term damage.
Brush, which in addition manufactures power management systems and transformers, explained that geothermal energy is extracted by the Rankine Power Cycle, which utilizes an organic substance as a medium to transfer the heat — in this example, n-Pentane, a flammable gas. In the case n-Pentane leaked from the turbine, it would create a hazardous explosive area. Because of this, the generators in question are certified for operation in Zone 2 areas, in which an explosive atmosphere, though rare, may occur during operation.
At high altitudes as in the Andes, the air is much thinner. Due to these atmospheric conditions, all high voltage electrical clearances must be much greater to reduce the potential for any damaging partial discharge activity in the stator windings. But, because the inherent design of the generator is fixed, Brush explained it had to find a way to overcome the issue.
“The thin air posed significant challenges for us to overcome,” stated Brush project manager Erwin van Campen. “Reliability of the generators is the key to any energy creation, to ensure homes and businesses receive dependable power. Because of the pressures put on the electrical insulation at 4500 m, we have de-rated the voltage of the generators from the usual 13.8 to 9.5 kV to counteract any potential energy-loss scenarios.”
“We also had to reevaluate our approach to cooling the generators due to the thinner air that circulates inside the cooling circuit. However, at such heights, ambient temperatures can reach extremes of -31 degrees Celsius, which poses significant challenges. For example, the generators are fitted with air-to-water coolers, which means that the cooling water requires sufficient anti-freeze to stop it turning to ice.”
“With a generator in normal operation there will not be any issue with the ambient temperature reaching -31 degrees Celsius because the load losses of the generator will ensure it stays at an acceptable temperature. Though to keep a generator at a suitable temperature during standstill in such low ambient temperatures, it is provided with heaters, which in this case are oversized to combat the local environment.”
As the installation date draws closer, other factors must be considered, van Campen stated. People can only be present at these heights for short amounts of time without succumbing to altitude sickness, so maintenance will have to be examined on a case-by-case basis, with stringent time planning.
“Cerro Pabellón is not only pushing the boundaries of geothermal energy, it is testing the limits of generator capacity in the harshest of climates,” van Campen concluded.
Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis – Advancing Geothermal Plans
St. Kitts is moving forward regarding plans to develop geothermal energy.
During the handing over ceremony of a solar farm located near the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Hon Ian Liburd, announced that preliminary examinations of St. Kitts’s capacity for geothermal energy production have been promising.
“The preliminary scientific studies…we had our geophysicists, geochemists and geologists already here on St. Kitts. And I can report that the geoscientists are currently meeting in Paris to decide the logistics for the next steps. And the indications are that the preliminary results are positive,” Liburd said.
Delivering a timeline of the following steps, Liburd stated that the geophysical field survey will commence at the end of March, running until May.
Liburd continued “We will be ready, hopefully to present an initial survey result to Cabinet during a Regional Geothermal Workshop here in early May. The drilling phase is targeted for June/July of this year. And all of this is being done with absolutely no cost to the government of St. Kitts and Nevis.”
The geothermal energy project is part of the island government’s overall plan to make the Federation a green economy run by renewable energy.
Asia and the Pacific
South Korea – Korean Investors Eye Indonesian Geothermal Development
South Korean investors recently highlighted their interest in constructing geothermal plants in East Java and East Nusa Tenggara with a targeted investment value of $400 million.
The investment plan was a result of the Head of Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), Franky Sibarani’s visit to Seoul, South Korea earlier this month. He stated that erecting renewable energy plants like geothermal plants must be fully supported to stimulate economic growth in the provinces
Sibarani elaborated that the investment plan will harness geothermal energy potential in Indonesia, which has yet to be comprehensively explored. “Investments in renewable energy has been one of the government’s top priorities. Since early last year we have tried a green investment concept,” Sibarani said.
Meanwhile, BKPM promotional representative in Seoul, Imam Soejoedi, will oversee the investment until construction. “The consortium is very optimistic with the changes and simplified rules in Indonesia’s energy sector, and will most likely to finish in the near future,” Imam commented in a statement.
South Korean investors have been active in investing in Indonesia. Last year, investments from South Korea brought in $1.2 million, with an increase of 7.6% from the previous year, and since 2010, the investment value from South Korean investors reached $8 million
Germany – Drilling Commences for Hesse Plant at Terbur
Featured in German news outlets, drilling has commenced for the first geothermal power plant in the state of Hesse in Germany at Trebur.
“After completion of the first hole in about three months, we can estimate how much energy lies under our feet,” stated CEO of Overland plant Gross-Gerau (ÜWG), Detlev Höhne. The project has been in planning, preparation and public stakeholder engagement until recently. The overarching investment until the plant will start operating is estimated to be $56 million.
The 55 m high drilling rig has been constructed and drilling of the first well is expected to commence soon. The drilling target is belowground at a depth of 4,000 m and is slated for completion by this summer. If everything follows suit, the power plant could come online in 2017.
The northern part of the Upper Rhine Graben, in which the Gross-Gerau district is located, is especially suited for geothermal development and utilization. The calculated average thermal water temperature at a depth of 3,500-4,000 meters is around 170 degrees Celsius, well above the national average and therefore fitting for power generation and heat production.
It is predicted that the geothermal power plant will supply 7,200 households with electricity and around 400 households with heat. The plant could annually produce approximately 25 GW hours of green electricity and could save about 750,000 liters of oil for heating purposes each year.
Scotland – Aberdeen Plans for Geothermal Wells Inspired by Icelandic Counterparts
Plans to construct a deep geothermal well beneath Aberdeen to heat businesses and homes in the local vicinity could harness large quantities of pollution-free energy, claim campaigners.
A government-funded report suggests that a demonstration scheme which would tap into high temperatures located miles belowground would help the area become a global energy hub. WWF Scotland is advising political parties across lines to cement plans to bring clean, affordable heating to thousands of buildings.
The plan to drill a deep geothermal well below the city may also showcase the potential from geothermal heating for the rest of the UK.
The geothermal proposal follows recent claims by Prime Minister David Cameron that Icelandic volcanoes could provide power to homes across the UK via a below-the-Atlantic cable. Iceland currently receives 95% of its electricity from geothermal and renewable hydropower sources.
However, rather than import energy from Iceland, the recently released report advises that Scotland should tap into its own geothermal sources as part of a national push for more renewable energy.
Supporting the proposal, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks stated: “Thanks to the growth in renewables and the closure of fossil-fuel power stations, Scotland is well on its way to de-carbonizing its electricity system. Sadly, the same cannot be said for how we heat our homes, businesses and water – with just 3 per cent of that heat coming from renewable sources.
“Along with other technologies, geothermal schemes like that being proposed in Aberdeen offer the chance to tap into large quantities of pollution-free energy and should be encouraged… If we are to make deep geothermal happen in Scotland and across the UK, we need to attract potential investors. I consider that the low-risk, low-cost DGSW provides that commercial investment platform and opportunity… This is a great chance to move to decarbonized heat supply from the earth from academic speculation to commercial reality.”
Aberdeen is one of several areas where geothermal feasibility studies have been supported by the Scottish government, with the others located at Guardbridge in Fife, Polkemmet in West Lothian, Hartwood in North Lanarkshire and Hill of Banchory in Aberdeenshire.