This post brings you geothermal headlines from Kenya, Iran, the USA, Croatia, and the UK.
Mount Sabalan, Iran
Image Credit: Adam Jones (Flickr)
Africa and the Middle East
Kenya – KenGen Announces Construction of New Olkaria Plant
Leading Kenya’s power utility, KenGen, has announced it is ready to start the construction of a 140 MW geothermal power plant in Olkaria, northwest of the capital Nairobi before the end of 2016.
Managing Director of the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), Albert Mugo, told an investors conference in Nairobi recetly that the project, dubbed Olkaria V, was currently undergoing the tendering process which closes in June.
“We expect to sign the contract in October with the contractor so that construction can begin by the end of year,” Mugo said.
Mugo said the power plant project was expected to take 30 months and that KenGen had secured about $410 million for it.
He said that the firm hoped to connect 720 MW of new power to the Kenyan national grid over the next four years.
Mugo also encouraged the investors to invest more in the firm, saying its “dividend scheme” is “one of the most competitive, reliable and sustainable in the country.”
“With the country’s power demand expected to cross the 4,000 MW mark by 2020, success in the future is dependent on early planning and that is why we are asking shareholders to take up their rights at this time so that we can have enough capital for expansion,” Mugo said.
KenGen, which is 70% owned by the government, has a current installed capacity of 1617 MW, out of which 509 MW is from geothermal sources.
In December 2015, KenGen fully put into use the 280 MW Olkaria geothermal power plant, one of the world’s largest single geothermal power plants.
Figures show Kenya’s current installed generation capacity is produced through geothermal sources at 46.4%, hydro (38.1%), thermal (14.8%), and wind (0.4%).
Iran – Country Explores First Geothermal Power Plant
In recent news, Iran is gearing up to integrate its first geothermal power plant into the nation’s power grid in March 2017, according to the local city governor.
The plant is currently under construction near the city of Meshkin Shahr (Meshkinshahr), on the northern slope of Mt. Sabalan in the northwest sector of Iran.
The project is being developed by the Renewable Energy Organization of Iran. Imagined as an ultimately 25 MW plant for the future, the current development is intended for a 5 MW pilot plant.
The company Moshanir has headed the designing and supervision on construction of an access road to the drilling site, the construction of 5 drilling sites, tasked with the creation of a 5000 m3 water storage tank, two pumping stations, indoor warehouse, the additional drilling of 11 geothermal wells, conducting geophysical tests and studies, geothermal well flow testing, the construction of a pipeline, and finally well logging.
ThinkGeoEnergy reported in May 2015 that the project had signed a contract for Italian turbines.
There are also plans for additional direct use applications of geothermal technology in proximity to the baseload energy plant.
USA – EDC Aids Hawaii in Assessing Geothermal Resources
Hawaii is following the Philippines lead regarding geothermal energy development, which has led to it exploring a possible collaboration with the Lopez-run Energy Development Corporation (EDC) on surrounding geothermal ventures.
In a statement to the media, EDC made public that Luis P. Salaveria, the Filipino-American director of the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, recently visited the Philippines to make headway with talks on the potential collaboration.
The Lopez firm highlighted that integrating geothermal on to the State’s energy mix has been part of its aspiration to become a fully 100% renewable energy market by 2045.
Hawaii currently relies on a high fossil fuel energy mix, with 90% of its energy needs supplied by oil.
Quoting Salaveria, EDC noted that their company is seen as “a possible partner of Hawaii in future cooperation agreement.”
EDC is currently the Philippines’ largest geothermal energy producer – and has been aiming to expand domestically and offshore, foremost in Latin America and Indonesia.
“Hawaii is especially interested in gaining a deeper understanding about geothermal energy and how this renewable energy source can help in achieving HCEI’s (Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative) goal,” the Lopez firm said.
Currently, Hawaii’s geothermal production capacity is still quite small at just 38 MW of capacity.
Nevertheless, EDC indicated that based on studies, “Hawaii may hold more than 1,000 MW of geothermal reserves on Maui and Hawaii islands – two of its eight main islands of the state.
EDC added that while Hawaii has other green energy options, like wind and solar, “these renewable energy sources are intermittent and cannot be used to run baseload power plants.”
EDC stressed that “given its vast potential, Hawaii considers geothermal a natural RE option to run more baseload power plants in the future.”
Croatia – Croatia’s First Geothermal Plant in the Works
Geothermal energy is the future of energy, especially when it comes to renewable sources, according to Dragan Jurilj, the owner of Croatian Geothermal company. Collaborating with his Turkish partner Muharrem Balet, the owner of MB Holding and Mega energy group, Jurilj is investing in the first Croatian geothermal plant in Velika Ciglena near Bjelovar. The plant will enter trial operation next year in May 2017. In tandem, the Croatian and Turkish partners are launching exploration activities near several potential hot water springs in the north-western part of Croatia.
“The superiority of geothermal energy compared to other sources of energy, such as fossil fuel, nuclear and renewable sources, is immeasurable. Most of the renewable energy sources can function only with big incentives and when they are discontinued some of them are no longer viable. Moreover, big wind turbines are working only when there is wind, and solar plants only when there is sun. Geothermal plants work 24 hours a day. The biggest issue with geothermal technology is uncertainty of exploration, and the banks do not want to issue loans for it because of the risks. However, after the exploration and after the two years of test runs, the plant can remain in function 200 to 500 years and bring profits”, said Jurilj.
Jurilj highlighted that exploratory activities cost about 50% of the total value of a geothermal plant. Because one plant needs four springs, this represents both a huge sum and a great risk. Jurilj’s plant near Bjelovar will have a net capacity of 10 MW. Geothermal is currently working on four fields in north-western Croatia, and the works have been completed by domestic company Crosco. Jurilj estimates that about 60% of geothermal energy equipment can be produced in Croatia, and companies such as Crosco can effectively conduct exploration activities.
Meanwhile, Balet has been working with geothermal energy for 40 years and possesses five plants in Turkey, while Croatia is his first foreign project. He made the decision to do a project in Croatia due to the similarity of geological features.
UK – Cheshire East Council Enters Geothermal Heating Joint Venture
Cheshire East Council recently entered a joint venture with energy and services company ENGIE to create eco-efficient district heating networks in the area powered in part by by geothermal warmth.
It will build upon a relationship created through ENGIE’s delivery of facilities management services to the council.
Cheshire Energy Networks will focus on low and zero carbon sources of heat including geothermal energy.
ENGIE will perform all related feasibility studies, engineering and construction services alongside providing consultancy with respect to design and delivery of renewable energy projects.
Cheshire East Council leader Rachel Bailey said: “Cheshire Energy Networks is a further addition to the council’s portfolio of energy saving initiatives and we look forward to working with ENGIE to develop a low-cost district heating infrastructure, exploiting carbon neutral or low-carbon sources.”