This post brings you geothermal headlines from Kenya, St. Kitts and Nevis, Iceland, Italy, and Scotland.
Floodwater under Kingshill Colliery could fuel a geothermal district heating system. Photograph: TSPL
Africa and the Middle East
Kenya – Baringo-Silali Geothermal Project Makes Headway
Baringo County residents recently gave the Geothermal Development Company (GDC) access to their land, eliminating a major obstacle that has held back efforts to generate 3,000 megawatts of steam-powered energy in the region.
The affected residents officialized a land-use pact with the GDC, making way for the beginning of the first phase of the Baringo-Silali project which aims to generate 800 megawatts in January.
“I am happy to report that GDC has signed a land agreement with affected communities,” GDC’s chief executive Johnson ole Nchoe remarked following a closed-door meeting with KfW country director Klaus Liebig.
In the past, land rows have ruffled executives of KfW, a German government-owned development bank, which has agreed to fund approximately $91.4 thousand over the first phase of the project during which 200 MW will be produced.
“The land pact paves way for completion of a legal opinion to KfW, and the subsequent disbursement of funds for the project,” said Nchoe. He elaborated: “Having reached an agreement with land owners, we are moving closer to breaking ground.”
Delay to agree upon a compensation deal with Baringo residents has significantly hindered a project that has been on the card from 2008.
Kenya has invested in geothermal power production to reduce reliance on expensive diesel powered generators and weather-dependent hydropower. Since August 2014, Kenya has injected around 320 MW of geothermal.
The first phase of the Baringo project that straddles Bogoria, Paka, Chepchuk, Korosi and Silali areas will cost approximately $3.1 billion and bring online 200 MW to the national grid.
Overall, the GDC is aiming to develop the first 2,000 MW in four phases beginning with 800MW by 2017, 400 MW by 2019, another 400 MW by 2021 and the remaining 400 MW by 2023.
The project will be completed under the public-private partnership model targets to supply power to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.
The GDC had previously advertised for equity investors to jointly develop the Baringo steam field.
The KfW’s role in the geothermal project is to finance exploratory drilling, one of the riskiest phases of geothermal development which – if successful – makes further financing readily available.
St. Kitts and Nevis – Regional Geothermal Forum to be Held for the Caribbean
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission are joining with the government of St Kitts and Nevis to host a regional geothermal forum with the headline theme: “Opportunities and Synergies for Collaboration.”
Geothermal energy, plentiful on many Caribbean islands as a mostly untapped source of energy, has grown as an energy priority in Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Thus the forum arrives during a period of increased interest and activity surrounding geothermal energy development within the region.
The meeting, which organizers concur is timely, is aimed at high level officials from relevant ministries and government agencies, engaged in the development of geothermal projects within the resource-rich countries of the OECS. Representatives of multilateral institutions, international development partners and international financing institutions, alongside private sector developers and investors, will also be present.
The German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), through the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance (REETA) Project, the Regional Council of Guadeloupe, with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), through the Technical Cooperation on Sustainable Energy Deployment in the Caribbean are in tandem supporting this joint initiative for clean energy development in the Caribbean.
Iceland – HS Orka to Explore Deep Hydrothermal High Enthalpy Reservoirs
As Renewable Energy World reports, Iceland-based geothermal developer HS Orka recently initialized a contract for the drilling of an around three-mile, high-temperature well at the Reykjanes geothermal field on the southern peninsula of Iceland.
The company made the contract official with Iceland Drilling, which, according to a statement from HS Orka, will use its largest drilling rig for the project.
HS Orka stated the well is intended to be the country’s deepest and highest-temperature geothermal well, reaching up to 500 degrees Celsius. Drilling operations are slated for the second half of 2016.
HS Orka elaborated that the purpose of the project in question is to showcase the possibility of harnessing deep hydrothermal high enthalpy reservoirs so as to augment the current conventional geothermal fields that are used to produce energy. In that respect, Iceland Drilling will extend HS Orka’s existing 1.5 mile well at Reykjanes to the target three miles.
HS Okra commented that it will collaborate with its project partners to create new technology that may potentially use the superheated steam to increase the output of the existing facility at Reykjanes.
Italy – Enel Green Power Launches Geothermal-Biomass Plant in Tuscany
The “Cornia 2” power plant has commenced operation in the town of Castelnuovo Val di Cecina, located central Italy. It is the first plant in the world that mixes geothermal and biomass in an innovative integration. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by the councilor for the environment of the region of Tuscany, Federica Fratoni, the Mayor of Castelnuovo Val di Cecina Alberto Ferrini, the mayors of the municipalities of the traditional geothermal area, the director of Co.Svi.G, (Consortium for the Development of Geothermal areas) Sergio Chiacchella, Enel Green Power’s head of operations and maintenance of geothermal power in Italy, Massimo Montemaggi and the Head of Territorial Affairs – Central Area at Enel Italia, Fabrizio Iaccarino.
The hybrid plant, which was connected to the grid in July 2015, utilizes biomass to superheat geothermal steam, increasing the energy efficiency and electrical output of the geothermal cycle. The existing plant has been joined by a small “short chain” virgin biomass-fired power station, from forest wood, produced in a radius of 70 km from the plant. There is a specific focus on the management and maintenance of the wooded areas.
The biomass powers the superheating of the steam entering the power station from a temperature of between 150 degrees Celsius and 160 degrees Celsius to between 370 degrees Celsius and 380 degrees Celsius. This ups the net power for electricity production thanks to the greater enthalpy of the steam and also the performance of the cycle due to lower humidity in the production phase.
Enel Green Power has invested over $17 million in the plant. Its 5 MW power increases production capacity by more than 30 GWh per year and the total operation produces increase CO2 savings of over 13,000 tons annually. It also benefits local employment opportunities, which including direct and indirect management for resource retrieval in the short supply chain process, total around 30 employees. Other benefits from the efficient use of agricultural and agro-industrial by-products include the optimal maintenance of forests and, stemming from that, the prevention of hydrogeological risk, sustainable development of energy crops and the significant availability of cogeneration heat.
Scotland – Country to Develop Geothermal Heating Systems
Scotland may not possess the geothermal features of Iceland but thousands of Scottish citizens may soon be following in the footsteps of their northerly neighbors, tapping into the geothermal warmth of the Earth’s core to heat their homes.
Over half of all energy used in Scotland is directed towards heating and accounts for approximately half of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
Scots rack up as much as $3 billion each year to warm homes and businesses, with official figures suggesting that around 845,000 households are victims of fuel poverty.
However, if an innovative new scheme gets approval, around 700 households in one of Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas could benefit from a cheaper and greener source of warmth: geothermal heating.
The quirk? The geothermal potential stems from the legacy of Scotland’s coal-mining past, according to experts.
In a joint effort with local councillors, scientists from the James Hutton Institute are investigating the possibility of creating a cutting-edge geothermal district heating system in North Lanarkshire by harnessing the warmth of underground floodwater at the disused Kingshill Colliery at Allanton.
Though commonplace across much of Scandinavia, district heating systems are a relatively novel concept in Scotland. The same can be said of geothermal power.
Two existing installations currently utilize mine water in Scotland: Shettleston in east Glasgow and Lumphinnans in Fife. Both are small schemes, servicing fewer than 20 dwellings, and have been working since around 2000.
Geologist and astrobiologist Dr Jelte Harnmeijer, who is head of renewable energy at the James Hutton Institute, is spearheading studies into the proposed scheme.
“Most geothermal energy in the world goes to electricity, but we use and need way more energy for heat than for electricity,” Harnmeijer said.
“And Scotland is pretty cold so we use a disproportionate amount of energy for heat compared to many of our European cousins.”
“This isn’t just geothermal. It’s a very special type of geothermal – from minewater, where energy is associated with collapsed and abandoned mine workings. It’s a pretty new idea. It’s more about thinking of abandoned mines as a resource rather than a liability.”
A network of abandoned mines lays belowground under many parts of central Scotland. A 2013 study by the British Geological Survey highlighted former pits as a huge potential resource for providing low-carbon heating.
Harnmeijer explained: “To me it’s about much more than just this one project. It’s about the overall potential – of the central belt in particular, which has a lot of complex mines.
“It’s a bit of an oversimplification but places that have the best mine resources are also the places with the greatest fuel poverty.”
Des Murray, head of housing property at North Lanarkshire Council, stated: “These plans are quite tentative at this moment, but could potentially be an exciting development for the area if it proves possible.”