This post brings you geothermal headlines from Tanzania, USA, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, and Finland.
Check out these innovative ways Iceland utilizes geothermal energy and heating!
Image Credit: Vilhelm Gunnarsson
Africa and the Middle East
Tanzania – Country Streamlines Geothermal Energy Development
Tanzania intends to generate 100 MW of electricity from geothermal energy sources in the coming seven years, official said recently.
Juliana Pallangyo, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, detailed that experts have already conducted a review and analysis of the geothermal projects surface study in Lake Ngozi and Songwe in Mbeya Region before commencing drilling.
Pallangyo said Tanzania contains huge geothermal potential, approximated at 5,000 MW, which has yet to be tapped into.
“The government’s efforts to develop this renewable, reliable and affordable energy source has come to effect after a series of serious vehicles formulated to engineer the process, including the establishment of Tanzania Geothermal Development Company Limited (TGDC) in December, 2013 which became operational in July, 2014,” Pallangyo explained.
The official added Tanzania would continue to support and live up to her commitment to tap into geothermal resources.
According to Pallangyo, the Tanzanian government had already established a dynamic and progressive framework for collaboration with various partners in its various activities from exploration, drilling, power production and direct use, elaborating that it was currently streamlining the geothermal legal framework.
Despite the efforts by the country to undertake geothermal resources’ development, there are still some gaps which need urgent action in order to bolster their development.
“It is also anticipated that the geothermal energy resource will continue to play an important role in the energy mix over the medium to long-term basis,” the official noted.
Pallangyo added that by considering the importance of geothermal energy to the power supply chain and its contribution to socio-economic development, the government was keen to grow the sector.
USA – Cornell University and Iceland Collaborate to Model Geothermal Energy
With a goal to develop clean, renewable geothermal energy projects while cooperating in research and education, Cornell and Geothermal Resource Park (GRP) Iceland have signed a memorandum of agreement in the same fashion as the successful Icelandic model for integrating energy solutions.
GRP Ltd. facilitates that model within the Iceland Geothermal Cluster to promote clean energy around the world.
The memorandum of agreement was signed April 28 in Reykjavik by Jefferson Tester, Cornell’s Croll Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems and director of the Cornell Energy Institute; Albert L. Albertsson, chairman of the Iceland Geothermal Cluster; and Ríkharður Ibsen, director of GRP. Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir, Iceland’s minister of industry and commerce, and U.S. Ambassador Robert Cushman Barber witnessed the agreement. Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff signed the memorandum, as acting president, in early April.
“Sustainability is more than just a concept in Icelandic society,” explained Tester.
“Sustainability has shaped the country and laid the groundwork for this flourishing nation. Iceland has a fiscal infrastructure that is unlike any other in the world. This island is a global leader with over 95 percent of its electricity and heating provided by renewable hydro and geothermal energy.”
One of the agreement’s key goals is to utilize the Icelandic experience of integrating geothermal and hydro resources as a model to transform carbon-based U.S. energy into sustainably harnessed, renewable green systems.
GRP will aid Cornell in developing a renewable energy park for possible deployment on the Cornell campus in Ithaca, New York, with an eye toward transforming the campus into a zero carbon model for other colleges and communities.
“This is a vital step for Cornell’s Climate Action Plan and aligns with Cornell’s mission to promote sustainability by developing renewable approaches for supplying and using clean energy,” said Tester.
Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, president of Iceland, visited Cornell in 2014 for a series of meetings and gave a talk explaining his country’s clean energy economy. “It’s not really about energy, it’s about the economy,” commented Grímsson. “It’s about the economic transformation of the country to realize that the move from fossil fuel over to clean energy is fundamentally good business – it’s fundamentally the road to prosperity and economic achievement.”
Iceland generates all of its electricity with renewable energy, and geothermal energy provides the majority of its hot water and heat. “Iceland’s renewable energy represents more than 85% of Iceland’s primary energy supply, in contrast to our global primary energy supply where about 80% is derived from fossil fuels,” said Tester. “The whole world should look to Iceland for lessons in sustainability and its effort to fulfill our social responsibility of going green.”
Asia and the Pacific
Indonesia – Aceh’s Regional Council Asks Government for Geothermal Electricity Investment
The continual electricity crisis, with an insufficient supply of electricity is a major concern in the semi-autonomous province of Aceh to the north of Sumatra Island in Indonesia.
Aceh’s regional executive board council is encouraging the Indonesian government to implement a geothermal project to be a centerpiece in aiding Aceh with their energy crisis.
“The project, which received a grant Bank German development (KfW) worth of EUR 7.72 million or Rp 100 billion that should have been able to be implemented to address the electricity crisis in Aceh,” wrote Chairman of the Council Pospera Aceh, Tarmizi, in a press release
“According to the Government of Aceh, this need [for reliable energy] should be viewed as an opportunity for geothermal project development in the region. Our hope [for] active participation of all stakeholders to address this issue is very important,” the Chairman said.
Taking into account that a steady supply of electricity has become the basic need of the people of Aceh and Tarmizi, “We expect the Government of Aceh should immediately implement a geothermal project. If not, it will be inversely proportional and not in line with the spirit we foster [of] an investment climate in Aceh, ” the Chairman concluded, questioning why the project is so very slow.
Nepal – Country May Tap Into Geothermal Hot Springs
Millennia ago, when the Eurasian and Indian plates crunched together, their geologic union produced the Himalayan mountains and gave Nepal its premier tourism attraction. The two tectonic plates continue to be geologically active and produce another tourist attraction which has not been fully harnessed: hot springs.
The geological activity behind Nepal’s frequent earthquakes also what gives the country at minimum 32 identified geothermal springs spanning what geologists call the Main Central Thrust which demarcates the suture between the two plates deep in the subsurface.
Geothermal expert Mahendra Ranjit says although research on geothermal energy started in Nepal more than 30 years ago, the emphasis was misplaced. “We looked mainly at generating electricity, which is difficult and costly due to the relatively low temperature of the hot springs in Nepal. What we need and should focus on is the direct use of these springs, like in tourism development and farming,” Ranjit explained.
All over Nepal, locals have traditionally used hot springs for balneotherapy, to cure everything from back pain to arthritis, but the thermal springs have not yet become a marketed selling point for international tourists.
All towns next to hot springs in Nepal are called Tatopani, dozens of potential tourists attractions from Humla to Taplejung. The Tatopani at Kodari is the more famous hot spring among travelers because it sits right on the highway to the Nepal-China border. The Bhurung Tatopani in Myagdi and another in Ghorepani are popular because they are on the Annapurna trekking circuit. Many other thermal springs are not visited due to lack of road access, infrastructure and marketing.
Globally, mineral and thermal springs generate a $50 billion market. Japan has a long tradition of bathing in natural hot springs (called ‘onsen’). China is speeding ahead with luxury hot spring resorts and in Europe: Iceland, Austria and the Czech Republic have cashed in on the health market with wellness spas central to hot springs.
In Nepal, the vast potential of hot springs goes unharnessed. Tourism experts say the scope of hot spring tourism is extremely large and – if properly developed – can be a profitable addition to Nepal’s tourism industry. “With the current infrastructure tourists may visit hot springs for the quaintness of it, but to attract international tourists we need to scale it up or leave everything natural,” explained tourism entrepreneur Raj Gyawali. Combining thermal springs with yoga, ayurveda and even shamanism can make it a viable product, Gyawali adds.
For the time being, Nepal could just cater to the domestic market and then direct growth to attract foreign tourists with additional services like spas and hotels as infrastructure is developed.
Chattra Karki, whose company offers hot springs in a package to trekkers, says infrastructure is the main bottleneck. “The Bhurung Tatopani is popular among tourists because it falls on the Annapurna circuit. The Singa Tatopani is popular among domestic tourists. But there is an equally picturesque hot spring in Rasuwa anyone hardly visits because it is difficult to get there.”
Nepalis believe that the natural minerals in hot springs relieve ailments associated with joints, gastritis and skin among others.
Since the springs are on public land, the private sector is not able to develop them to suit upmarket customers. Local communities do not possess the expertise and market reach to attract international tourists. Tourism entrepreneurs and local committees already running hot springs say that if the government provides the roads and tax breaks to invest in upgrading hot springs the private sector would jump in.
In Myagdi, the Singa Tatopani on the way to Dhaulagiri Base Camp is often overlooked by foreigners but Nepali patients have been coming here for centuries due to the alleged healing property of the spring. Income from the spring is used to operate the local Sarvodaya Secondary School with over 300 students. Income from the Bhurung Tatopani is also ploughed into the Saraswati Higher Secondary School. Earnings from the springs are used in the development of not only the springs but the community as well.
“If the government and the private sector help to develop the springs, we are willing to contribute in any way we can,” said Yogendra KC of Singa Tatopani Management Committee. “Developed the right way, hot springs can be the pride of Nepal just like the mountains.”
Apart from tourism, the hot springs can be utilized for space heating, greenhouse farming, fish farming and crop drying. Elaborates geothermal expert Ranjit, “There are multiple uses and we need to change our mindset about springs only being useful for geothermal energy and tourism.”
Philippines – Aboitiz Power Eying Chevron’s Geothermal Assets
Aboitiz Power Corp, a major player amongst Filipino power producers, recently stated it would consider the Asian geothermal assets that Chevron will be selling, as Aboitiz is gearing up to diversify its clean energy portfolio.
CEO of Aboitiz Power Erramon Aboitiz said his company is currently awaiting a formal notice of sale from Chevron.
Like many energy companies, Chevron is selling assets, cutting jobs around the globe and slashing capital spending to save cash in order to preserve its dividend amid weak oil prices. Chevron’s Asian geothermal energy blocks are currently valued at $3 billion.
Finland – Press Release: St1 Begins the Drilling of Geothermal Deep-Rock Wells in Otaniemi, Espoo
Energy company St1’s geothermal heat production project is moving on to the next phase in Espoo. A giant drilling rig with auxiliary systems have been assembled in the area of a Fortum heat plant in Otaniemi, and the drilling of deep wells for Finland’s first geothermal pilot plant will begin in the next few days.
In February, St1 Deep Heat Oy made an investment decision to construct a geothermal heat pilot plant in Otaniemi. The exploration drillings performed in the summer of 2015 proved that the area is promising for heat production based on natural bedrock heat.
Strada Energy, the company responsible for the drilling of the deep-rock wells, has assembled a massive drilling system in the area. The system was brought to the site in 58 truck loads. The drill is over 50 metres high and its hoisting capacity is over 400 tonnes. The electricity grid connection of the electrically operated drill is 6.3 MW. The drill will be operated in one shift by five persons, part of whom are St1’s own staff.
The drilling of two seven-kilometre deep production holes will begin in the next few days, and the entire multi-stage process will take approximately six months. After the first hole has been completed, a stimulation phase will be initiated to define the precise location of the second hole in order to create an optimal flow of water between the two holes. These geothermal holes and the natural cracks in the bedrock will function as underground heat exchanges, which will be connected to the overground heat plant systems via a pipework. Just below ground level, the drill holes will be over 100 centimeters in diameter and in their deepest position a little over 20 centimeters. During the construction stage, the project will employ up to 50 people, most of whom come from Finnish companies.
The heat pilot plant is estimated to be completed in 2017. It is estimated to produce up to 40 megawatts of geothermal heat, which Fortum will buy to cover up to 10 per cent of the district heating demand in the Espoo area.
“Research and development and new energy solution demonstrations are critical if we really want to boost Finland’s economic growth and replace imported fossil energy with domestic solutions. This geothermal heating pilot project is fully aligned with our strategy; the revenue from our traditional oil business enables us to make increasing investments in local renewable energy production,” says Mika Anttonen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of St1.
“This geothermal heat project is a key part of Fortum’s plan to shift to carbon-neutral district heating in Espoo by 2030. In addition to geothermal heat, we will diversify our district heating production by using wood-based fuels and waste heat. This will enable us to significantly reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of our heat production and to offer cleaner district heating for the citizens of Espoo,” says Heli Antila, Chief Technology Officer at Fortum.
Jukka Mäkelä, Mayor of the City of Espoo, is very pleased with the innovative pilot project between St1 and Fortum. “In our strategy for 2013-2017, the Espoo Story, we have defined that the City of Espoo will be a forerunner in preventing climate change. Geothermal heat product will strengthen our role in reducing emissions and preventing climate change,” he said. According to Mäkelä, this project is an excellent example of cooperation within Espoo Innovation Garden as well as the opportunities provided by the Länsimetro development corridor as a research, development and testing platform. “This is what Finland needs now,” he says.
The fully emission-free geothermal heat could be the giant leap towards abandoning fossil fuels in heat production. District heating based mainly on fossil energy is the most common type of heating inFinland. As a result of this pilot project, bedrock could become a renewable energy source that can be utilised in the existing district heating network. The Espoo project is one of Finland’s spearhead projects in the field of renewable energy. It has received an investment subsidy from the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. Furthermore, Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation supports scientific research connected to this project in order to develop competences in this field in Finland.