This post brings you geothermal headlines from Australia, Malaysia, Philippines, Canada, USA, Armenia, Germany.
ITAG drilling rig on site in Holzkirchen, Germany
Image Credit: GW Holzkirchen
Asia and the Pacific
Australia – Birdsville Geothermal Plant To Receive Upgrade
The sole geothermal power plant in Australia, the small 80 kW station in Birdsville, Queensland is seeing an upgrade.
The plant is now being upgraded and expanded to 200 kW power generation capacity. For this small community of around 115 people.
Ergon Energy will spend up to A$4.5 million expanding the plant, as reported locally. Currently, the city consumes an incredible 500,000 litres of diesel each year to produce electricity.
When upgraded the geothermal power station will be able to supply up to 70 percent of the electricity for the city and save $340,000 a year on diesel fuel.
Indonesia – 110 MW Sarulla Geothermal-Based Plant to Operate by Year-End
Sarulla geothermal power plant unit I with a capacity of 110 megawatts (MW) is scheduled to reach its commercial operation date (COD) in December. “Sarulla unit 1 will operate on December 2016,” said the Director for Geothermal of Energy Ministry Yunus Saefulhak, Monday, June 20, 2016.
Whereas power plant unit two and three which has the same capacity each will operate in phases in 2017 and 2018. “A total of 330 MW is a large capacity and it can help [to overcome] electricity problem in Sumatra,” Yunus said.
Sarulla plant is the largest geothermal power plant in the second phase of Fast Track Program to develop 10,000 MW electricity generation, almost 50 percent of which are geothermal-based. Sarulla geothermal power plant is the world’s largest single-contract geothermal power plant and will accelerate the achievement of electrification target in Indonesia.
The project requires roughly US$1.5 billion of investment, financed by private sector participation-lead by Medco Energy in a consortium with Itochu, Kyushu, and Ormat- encompassing 20 percent equity and 80 percent loan financing from Japan Bank for International Corporation (JBIC), through an independent power producer (IPP) scheme.
Malaysia – Geothermal Project Yields Promising Early Results
Development company Tawau Green Energy (TGE) is developing Malaysia’s first geothermal power plant project at the Apas Kiri Geothermal Field in Sabah, Malaysia.
The company now announces that recent results from the drilling of the first exploratory well show very positive indications of a commercially exploitable reservoir, with a temperature of 191 centigrades being recorded at a depth of 1,359 meters.
In addition, the geological analysis of the well coring is also strongly supportive of a medium temperature reservoir. Both indications augur very well for the basis for a 30MW net Binary ORC power plant to be supplied by its partner, Exergy of Italy.. This first exploratory well will continue to be drilled to a depth of 1,700 meters.
The drilling campaign currently plans for 2 exploratory, 7 production and 4 injection wells, and is being undertaken by Strada Energy International.
Philippines – EDC and Contractor Agree to End Arbitration Over Bac-man Geothermal Plant
Energy Development Corp. stated this Tuesday that wholly-owned subsidiary Bac-Man Geothermal Inc. and contractor Weir Engineering Services Ltd. settled their respective claims on the rehabilitation works of the Bac-Man geothermal facility in Bicol region.
“EDC is pleased to announce that BGI has informed it that all claims arising under the contract have now been settled on terms satisfactory to BGI and Weir,” EDC said in a disclosure to the stock exchange.
Bac-Man Geothermal agreed to return $1.89 million to Weir and both parties “have agreed to jointly take steps to cause the discontinuance of the arbitration.”
Bac-Man geothermal initiated an arbitration with the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce on April 20, 2015 to enforce its rights under contract for works for units 1, 2 and 3.
Weir was engaged by Bac-Man Geothermal in 2012 to carry out certain rehabilitation works on the steam turbine and generator installations in three existing power-generating units at Bacon-Manito geothermal power plants.
Units 1 and 2 are located at Bac-Man I plant in Palayang Bayan, Manito, Albay and Unit 3 at BacMan II plant in Cawayan, Sorsogon.
All units at the Bac-Man plant are now operational and the facility is producing a gross output of 140 MW.
Bac-Man Geothermal received the ICC tribunal’s phase 1 award on Feb, 1, 2016. The ICC tribunal also ordered Weir to pay a total of $5.292 million to the Lopez-owned company.
Weir withdrew its request for arbitration with the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission after Bac-Man received a favorable ruling from ICC in February.
The tribunal also ordered that “Weir is permanently restrained from pursuing proceedings in any other dispute resolution forum, including the CIAC, in connection with disputes arising under the Contract that have validly been referred by BGI to arbitration under the ICC rules.”
ICC also ordered Weir to pay Bac-Man Geothermal $887,902.03 within 21 days from the date of the partial award.
Canada – Geothermal Energy Going Unused in B.C.
A new report examining the use of geothermal power in B.C. finds many interior communities who have access to natural heat energy aren’t harnessing the resource.
Geoscience BC recently published a report identifying geothermal energy sources in 63 different communities in the province, along with instructions on how these communities can identify the strengths of the geothermal energy they have and what they could use it for.
Carlos Salas, vice-president of energy at Geoscience, said examples of geothermal energy uses include space heating, creating greenhouses, raising tropical fish, spas, drying lumber and more.
The focus was on 63 communities primarily in remote areas of B.C. – that happen to be near geothermal energy sources – where sourcing other forms of fuel could be a challenge.
“The good thing about some of these more remote areas is you can start using direct heating to help lower usage of diesel fuel,” Salas said.
“Some places are quite remote and by being able to use direct heating for their communities it can help lower greenhouse gases and also save money.”
In about 90 different hot spring sites examined by Geoscience, only about two dozen had any form of development. Places that could benefit from geothermal heating include Canoe Creek, Clarke Lake, Mount Meager and the Okanagan.
“One of the things we found from our study was that most of the communities don’t know about the direct use component of geothermal energy.
“Even though they may have that in their community, they either don’t know it exists, or if they know it exists, they don’t know how to get at it.”
The report can be found at geosciencebc.com.
USA – New Funding for Salton Sea Projects
The state budget California Gov. Jerry Brown signed this week includes $80.5 million for restoration of the Salton Sea – more than California has ever allocated for the state’s largest and most troubled lake.
“This is a great step in the right direction. I don’t think anyone, including the state, believes that this is enough to solve the problem, but it certainly starts us on the path of management techniques that can solve the problem,” said Bruce Wilcox, assistant secretary for Salton Sea policy at the California Natural Resources Agency.
The Salton Sea is 100 miles east of San Diego and is fed by runoff from Imperial County farms. A water transfer agreement that sends water from Imperial County farms to the San Diego region and the Coachella Valley has reduced the amount of water going into the sea. This has caused wildlife habitat to suffer and has increased the amount of airborne dust from the exposed land. This is expected to worsen when mitigation water is scheduled to stop going into the sea at the end of 2017.
Wilcox said the entire Salton Sea restoration program is estimated to cost $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion.
The $80.5 million allocated in the state’s budget will fund the design and environmental documentation for the first phase of the Salton Sea Management Plan. It will also fund some construction, Wilcox said. The plan builds habitat around the edges of the sea, which would deal with the habitat issues and the human health issues associated with the dust.
Wilcox said construction is expected to begin next year on two pieces of the project funded by the state – 600 acres of species conservation habitat and 450 acres at Red Hill Bay.
The funding is coming from a water bond voters approved in 2014.
Wilcox said he thinks getting the funding in this year’s budget will help the project secure more money in the future.
“We’re going to successfully complete what we’re planning, and that will give us a visible project that we can point to that the Legislature can look at and say, yes, indeed this is helping with the problems at the Salton Sea,” he said.
Wilcox said advocates for the sea are also looking into ways to get federal funding for the project.
Armenia – Renewable Energy World: Country Begins Drilling for Major Geothermal Station
In the second half of June, Armenia launched reconnaissance drilling of geothermal wells near Kyarkyar City in the southern part the country, according to a recent statement from Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Armenia Hayk Harutyunyan.
Harutyunyan said the location is the first of two sites that have been chosen within previous studies for the construction of a geothermal power station. Preliminary researches indicated that a station at the site would be able to produce between 30 MW and 50 MW of energy, operating 7,000 hours per year.
“The purpose of this drilling is final confirmation of the presence of geothermal resources underground,” Harutyunyan said. “In case that result of preliminary studies would be confirmed, we will launch here construction of a geothermal station with the capacity of at least 30 MW.”
At the beginning of 2016, Armenia received a Strategic Climate Fund Grant from the World Bank in the amount of US$ 8.55 million for implementation of the project. According to estimates by Armenia’s Energy Ministry, the potential capacity of the geothermal sector in the country totals 150 MW.
This data had been identified in 2009 when Armenia conducted magnetotelluric sounding of hot groundwater indicating good potential for obtaining energy from geothermal sources. In addition, some experts say that that potential is steadily growing every year, so it could be even bigger as of today.
“Due of the rapid development of relatively new volcanic processes in the country, Armenia is considered one of the most promising areas for the development of geothermal power,” Tamara Babayan, head of Armenian Renewable Energy and Energy Saving Fund, said. “We expect that station construction will be funded through private investments.”
Representatives of the Energy Ministry indicated that the geothermal station looks very promising, and in case of successful implementation of the project, it can be multiplied in the Gridsone area, where preliminary studies also indicated opportunity to construct a station with the capacity of between 30 MW and 40 MW.
The overall investment amount of the project is estimated at US$ 45 million, but the final figure is yet to be determined, since without a confirmed investor, it is hard to assess the actual cost for construction, according to representatives of the ministry.
Construction should be launched in 2017, so the station could be commissioned by 2020. The project is believed to be the biggest geothermal power station in the Caucasian region and one of the biggest in post-Soviet Union space.
Armenia has been dedicated to the development of renewable energy resources since 2009, when the country’s government adopted a program for promoting construction of small hydro power plants across the country in order to cut dependence on imported hydrocarbons.
Germany – Holzkirchen Project in Germany Reports Successful Drilling Results
Recently in Bavaria, Germany, it was reported that the geothermal project at Holzkirchen has successfully finished and tested its first well.
With the low temperature resources in Germany, projects always examine the achievable temperature and flow rates. So the project now reporting 140 centigrades and a flow rate of 60 liters per second is seen as successful.
The developer is currently looking to start the move of the drilling rig by around 7.5 meters with a drilling start for the second well to be started in about two weeks.
With the success of the first well, the project can now also secure debt financing with a group of banks to be providing loans of up to EUR 28.6 million ($32 million). The local municipality has financed up to EUR 10.7 million ($12 million) so far into the project.
If all goes according to plan, the second well will be finalized in September this year. Then it could be decided which hole is to become the production well and which one the re-injection well.
The recent adaptation to Germany’s renewable energy law, the final vote in parliament is still outstanding, will now extend financial support for geothermal projects that start operation by the end of 2020 and not as early as the earlier deadline by December 31, 2017. With that extension the 5% degression of the achievable feed-in-tariff will only be applied for projects that start operation after December 31, 2020.
This removes a bit of pressure from the project, according to the developer, and the project can first focus on heat generation with the development of the actual power plant getting a little bit more time.