This post brings you geothermal headlines from Kenya, St. Kitts and Nevis, the USA, India, Japan, New Zealand, Iceland, and France.
Ball State University makes progress on geothermal project.
Photo Credit: Samantha Brammer
Africa and the Middle East
Kenya – Country Fourth in Installed Geothermal Capacity
Kenya’s geothermal energy capacity grew by 20 MW by December 2015 last year, ranking it fourth in capacity additions and marking its place in the global green economy. The most recent Renewables Global Status highlights that the amount of geothermal energy in Kenya’s national grid grew to a total 600 MW by 2015’s end. Geothermal now accounts for over a quarter of the country’s total power capacity of 2,333 MW.
Kenya contains an untapped potential of 10,000 MW of steam energy in the African Rift Valley hotspot. Exploratory works for new resources are ongoing.
Kenyan officials, in the past few years, have reaffirmed their commitment to geothermal energy in order to lower the economy’s consumption of pricy electricity from diesel generators while bolstering the country’s competitiveness. Two years ago, approximately 280 MW of steam power was delivered to the grid in 2014 from the Olkaria fields in Naivasha, aiding in reducing the share of thermal power, lowering power bills by around 30%.
Currently, electricity distributor Kenya Power purchases geothermal from producer KenGen at about Sh7 per kilowatt hour for sale to homes and businesses, which is three times cheaper compared to diesel generated electricity. Official data highlighted that geothermal monthly consumption hit a record peak of 402.1 million units last October, constituting 49% of electricity consumed by the public. This jump resulted from increased generation by KenGen, which switched on several geothermal wellheads — smaller power producing plants that allow early tapping of electricity while awaiting the construction of big geothermal plants.
Kenya currently relies on an energy mix of geothermal, thermal and hydropower – which is the cheapest source at Sh3 per unit but unsteady due to its dependence on weather patterns.
St. Kitts and Nevis – Premier Gives Update on Geothermal Progress
The Premier of Nevis Vance Amory recently stated progress into the development of the geothermal sector in Nevis is moving along efficiently.
In a recent update to the media, the Premier noted that a recent report indicates that the energy resource is still in existence but they are investigating a problem with one of the geothermal wells.
“It appears that there had been some sort of sabotage of that well as they could not find the energy in a well which had been ejecting significant steam levels. We are still to investigate that a little further. But in terms of the other two wells which had been dug, they are satisfied that the energy levels are still there,” Amory said.
Premier Amory elaborated that Nevis Renewable Energy International has approached the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to finance the geothermal project.
“The government itself will not be putting any money into it because we are contracting them to provide that service and they are taking that initiative as they have promised to approach financiers to finance the ongoing development of this renewable energy resource. So we shall be able, I think, in another couple of weeks to report to you on further progress in the development of geothermal in Nevis.”
USA – Ball State University to House Largest Geothermal System in the World
Ball State University in Indiana will soon be home to the biggest geothermal system in the world. Jim Lowe, associate vice president of facilities planning and management, stated that no one else thus far has come forward to claim their system is bigger.
The project began in 2000 when the university was studying the condition of the existing coal fire burners. The coal system was built in the 1940s and 50s and soon needed to be replaced.
Indiana adopted new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations regarding emissions in 2004. With these in mind, the university chose to push forward with geothermal heating and cooling.
“We had to do something with our coal burning operations,” Lowe said. “Fast forward, we ultimately made the decision … [that] ended up being geothermal that would actually replace both our equipment that produces steam, which we use for heating, and our equipment that produces cold water, which we use for cooling. It does both at the same time with a piece of equipment that has been adapted to ground source technology.”
Ball State’s system does not produce power. Water flows through a pipe that will go into the ground in a closed-loop system and as the water passes through the pipe, thermal energy will be moved to or out of the ground. Lowe said that it is similar to cold water becoming room temperature. Equilibrium is the goal.
The university broke ground on the project in 2009, and they’re currently working around Dehority Complex and on University Avenue on campus. Lowe said University costs and Ball State’s carbon footprint will both be reduced through this project.
“The reason it’s taken the length of time that it has is because it’s such a huge system. The first 2-3 years, we were drilling boreholes, which is the geothermal portion of it, and then we’ve been installing piping throughout campus and that piping is extended into buildings,” Lowe said. “Buildings have been sequentially connected as we’ve extended piping throughout campus.”
Through July 11, there will only be partial access to University Avenue due to the construction. Lowe said he hopes the project will be completed in Spring 2017.
Johnson & Johnson recently visited the campus because they are thinking about also having a geothermal system in their 500,000 square feet facility in Cincinnati, OH.
“It has been a wonderful way to actually meet different universities and different businesses that have said ‘You know what, you’ve taken the mystique out of this. It works, and we want to know how you made it work,'” Lowe said. “That’s exciting. Ball State should be proud, [students] should be proud of our university. We’ve done wonderful things.”
Asia and the Pacific
India – Country Pursues 10 GW of Geothermal Power by 2030
In pursuit of its goal to increase its renewable energy portfolio, India recently proposed to harness 10 GW of geothermal energy by 2030 through active international collaboration with countries like the US, Philippines, Mexico and New Zealand.
The Indian government’s ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) on 6 June released a “draft Indian geothermal energy development framework” seeking comments from all stakeholders by the 10th of June.
“The geothermal policy envisages to make a substantial contribution to India’s long-term energy supply and reduce our national greenhouse gas emissions by developing a sustainable, safe, secure, socially and environmentally responsible geothermal energy industry, apart from creating new employment opportunities and leading to environmentally sustainable development by the means of deployment of 1,000 MW geothermal energy capacity in the initial phase till 2022 and 10,000 MW by 2030,” said the draft policy.
In the build-up to the Paris Climate Change summit in December 2015, the Indian government announced its target of achieving 175 GW of renewable power by 2022 and 350 GW or 40% of its total installed power capacity through renewable energy sources by 2030.
India is at a nascent stage with regards to the exploitation of geothermal energy, primarily because coal is cheaper. But with increasing environmental problems associated with coal-based projects, India is now also looking at developing clean and eco-friendly energy sources.
The central government has been actively supporting research in geothermal energy for over two decades. Systematic efforts to explore geothermal energy resources first commenced in India in 1973 and several promising sites were finalized. Some of these are Cambay Graben in Gujarat, Puga and Chhumathang in Jammu and Kashmir, Tattapani in Chhattisgarh, Manikaran in Himachal Pradesh, Ratnagiri in Maharashtra and Rajgir in Bihar.
The draft policy also stresses the role and active participation of states’ respective state governments will facilitate land acquisition at prices determined and also decide on the royalty to be paid for the utilization of geothermal resources.
Japan – Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. Offer Insurance for Hot Springs Operators
Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. has commenced offering a type of insurance intended to ease the concern of hot springs operators about the impact of new geothermal power stations.
Developers of geothermal power projects now have the option to purchase an insurance policy that covers the expense for surveys to determine if their projects are the cause of changes in the quality and volume of hot water, Takeharu Kikuchi, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based company, said to reporters.
Until currently, hot spring operators were required to pay for such surveys if they wanted to claim a nearby geothermal power station is causing problems, according to Kikuchi. Surveys can usually cost between 5 million yen ($47,000) and 30 million yen.
The expansion of geothermal power in Japan has been slow despite ample resources and even after the country introduced an incentive program for clean energy in 2012.
New Zealand – Press Release: Eastland Group – Te Ahi O Maui Drilling Underway
Drilling is underway on the first of three wells for the Te Ahi O Maui geothermal power project near Kawerau. Following completion of this well, two further wells will be drilled later this year.
Project Manager, Ben Gibson, said that the drilling process will target known sources of geothermal fluid, which could be as hot as 200-300 degrees Celsius. “It’s this high-temperature fluid that will ultimately fuel the geothermal power plant,” he advised.
Well pads were constructed on site and the Old Coach Road, near Kawerau, was upgraded in preparation for the drilling rig’s arrival in late April. The drilling rig was commissioned this month following assembly, inspections, and karakia and blessings from local kaumatua.
The Te Ahi O Maui project team is working with internationally recognised drilling specialists including the New Zealand owned and operated rig contractor, MB Century; ancillary service provider, Halliburton; and supervising engineers, Jacobs (formerly SKM).
Te Ahi O Maui is 100% New Zealand owned via a partnership between Eastland Generation and Kawerau A8D Ahu Whenua Trust. Tomairangi Fox, A8D trustee and project cultural advisor, said the start of drilling is a major project milestone. “The blessing is important to ‘clear the way’ for successful drilling,” he noted.
Colleen Skerrett-White, A8D owner and past-trustee, and assistant to the project team, said the project would benefit the landowners, wider community and New Zealand. “Te Ahi O Maui will provide opportunity to develop and create local expertise and employment well into the future. We expect as many as 100 people will be involved in the construction phase and, throughout the life of the power plant, people will be required to operate and maintain it.
These activities require businesses to support them, including engineering firms to provide the technical know-how and skills and lunch bars and cafes to feed staff. Much of this support will come from local businesses, which will mean a large part of the money spent on the plant will be spent locally. The employment opportunities for our local people, and particularly youth, are one of the important benefits of this project,” says Ms Skerrett-White.
Mr Gibson advised that the project’s focus for the coming months is ensuring the wells are drilled as safely and efficiently as possible. “We will be able to provide further updates towards the end of 2016, once the three wells are complete.”
Iceland – EIB Provides Financing for Geothermal Power Plant
The European Investment Bank (EIB) recently signed a EUR 125 million loan agreement with Landsvirkjun, the National Power Company of Iceland, to finance a new geothermal power station and its geothermal wells at Þeistareykir, near Húsavik in north-eastern Iceland.
The funds will be used to support the design, construction and operation of a new 90 MW geothermal power station and its geothermal wells, operated by the National Power Company of Iceland. The project will be located at Þeistareykir, around 30 km south-east of Húsavik in the northeast of the country, where nine wells with over 50 MW capacity have already been drilled and tested.
Vice-President Cristian Popa, responsible for EIB-operations EFTA-countries, commented: “Iceland is in a very special position when it comes to renewable energy and it’s great to see how Landsvirkjun is making the most of it. The EIB is glad that it can support this important energy project, which also highlights how the bank supports the energy sector around Europe. The Icelandic expertise in this area is state of the art and serves as a blue print for geothermal projects around the globe.”
“This is an important milestone for Landsvirkjun and we are grateful for the support the EIB is showing renewable energy in Iceland. The EIB has in the past demonstrated its strong support in providing funding for sound and sustainable projects in Europe and we see this agreement as a sign of confidence in our company.” added Hörður Arnarson, CEO of Landsvirkjun.
The loan is the first EIB project in Iceland since 2011, when it lent EUR 70 million also to Landsvirkjun, for the construction of the Budarhals hydropower plant in the lower highlands of southern Iceland on the rivers Tungnaa and Kaldakvisl. These projects are crucial in the fight against climate change through support for renewable energy, one of the main priorities for the European Investment Bank. Last year, more than a quarter of all EIB-lending supported projects that help safeguard the environment.
France – Geothermal Plant to Provide Steam For Industrial Purposes
French energy minister Ségolène Royal recently inaugurated a geothermal plant that will provide process steam for an industrial site.
The 24 MW Rittershoffen deep geothermal plant is slated to direct steam to starch producer Roquette Fréres’ biorefinery in the township of Bienheim.
The plant’s output is expected to cover 75% of Roquette Beinheim’s steam needs, replace around 16,000 tons of oil equivalent each year, and reduce the factory’s annual carbon dioxide emissions by 39,000 tons.
The installation features two 2,500 meter-deep wells and 15 km of pipes buried at a depth of 1.5 meters. In operation, water is extracted from the wells at 165°C, the heat is removed, and the water is then injected back into the earth.
The $62 million project was constructed by a joint venture known as ECOGI (Exploitation of Geothermal Heat for Industry), comprising utility Électricité de Strasbourg and power provider Groupe ÉS, with financing coming from the Caisse des Dépôts bank and France’s environment and energy management agency ADEME.
“The Rittershoffen deep geothermal power plant is the first of its kind in the world, a model of energy transition and environmental strategy, which opens up important new possibilities for regional and national development,” ECOGI said in an official statement.