Geothermal in Iran, USA, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Armenia

This post brings you geothermal headlines from Iran, the USA, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Armenia.

Syunik Armenia

Syunik Province, Armenia – the future site of the country’s first geothermal power plant.

Image Credit: Abraham Balabanyan

Africa and the Middle East

Iran – Iran Plans First Tender to Draw $12 Billion Renewable-energy Investment

Iran is planning its first tender for utility-scale renewable-energy projects by year end as it begins a green power build out that could draw $12 billion of investment by the time it’s complete.

The nation wants to install 5 GW of renewable energy in the next five years and an additional 2.5 GW by 2030, Iran’s energy minister Hamid Chitchian said Thursday in an interview in London. The Persian Gulf nation, re-opened to investors following last year’s nuclear deal, has been courted by international green power investors at the same time it boosts oil production for export.

“We’re not going to use the money from oil in that sector at all,” Chitchian said. “All the investment will be done by the private sector, including local and foreign companies.”
At least 150 trade delegations from around the globe have visited Tehran in the six months since economic sanctions were dropped.

Tehran’s government is seeking commerce with countries and companies offering the best financial terms rather than prioritizing political and historical ties. The energy ministry is already in talks with some of the world’s largest renewable-energy players including Vestas Wind Systems A/S and Siemens Wind Power Ltd., Chitchian said.

Vestas’ chief sales officer, Juan Aratuce, said last month that Iran could be an important new market for wind energy. Automaker Iran Khodro Co. is negotiating with South Korea’s LG International Corp. to jointly develop electric vehicles.

“Foreign direct investment dried up during the sanctions but it is already starting to flow,” said Mohammad Hassan Habibollahzadeh, Iran’s charge d’affaires in UK “Many companies have signed agreements during the last few months. Electricity is considered to be one of the most important sectors.”

Most of Iran’s power plants are over 40 years old and need to be renovated and repowered, he said. The government is planning to invest a total of $50 billion in its electricity system in the next seven years.

Iran will tender 1 GW of wind and as many as 3 GW of solar, likely in several stages, Chitchian said. It is also seeking to build biomass and geothermal plants and swap natural gas for electricity with Armenia.

Iran may also add solar to its system of energy swaps, which before sanctions were lifted allowed the country to trade crude for refined products. Under a so-called “solar for service” program, developers and land owners would split cash flows generated from power sales.

Iran currently supplies 80% of its power from natural gas and wants to raise that figure to 90 percent by the end of next year.

The Americas

USA – Rapid Growth Expected For Electric Storage in California

Solar and wind power have grown rapidly in California over the past decade, and now batteries to store some of that energy are expected to follow suit.

Southern California Edison already plans for the Los Angeles basin to host the largest battery storage site in the country starting in 2021. The utility expects it will need to produce more electricity in the LA region-but only during peak times.

Robert Villegas of Southern California Edison says the utility sought offers for fossil-fuel plants, as well as renewable energy, but it found battery storage was roughly the same price.

“Building a new power plant in the middle of the West L.A. Basin area is a difficult undertaking and an expensive undertaking,” said Villegas. “So it allows for other technology types to be able to be priced competitively.”

The cost of batteries has also fallen.

“Roughly speaking we’ve seen storage costs come down by as much as 50% the past four or five years,” said Ravi Menghani, an analyst at GTM Research, who studies energy storage.

GTM Research estimates prices will fall another 40 percent over the next five years. State lawmakers have also required utilities to build more storage into their systems.

The research firm expects those factors will help spur California’s relatively small energy storage capacity to grow exponentially by the end of the decade.

The state is currently home to 67 MW of energy storage-about one-third the size of a small coal plant. GTM predicts California will deploy 2,400 MW of storage in the next five years-40% of all storage capacity in the U.S.

Asia and the Pacific

Australia – New Ground Source Heat Pump Keeps QLD Library Cool Without Air-conditioning

A cooling system is keeping the Gatton Library on the University of Queensland’s Gatton campus cool and comfortable for occupants without the costs typically incurred by an air-conditioning system.

The Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) running at the Gatton Library functions the same as an air-conditioning unit, says Dr Aleks Atrens from UQ’s School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering who explains that the GSHP uses a vapor compression cycle – similar to an AC system – to transfer heat.

However, instead of the heat being transferred into the outside air, it is moved underground where temperatures are constant throughout the year. In Brisbane, for instance, it’s about 23 degrees Celsius underground all year-round.

The GSHP is set up to measure operational data using an extensive ground-temperature monitoring system, with data on display at the Gatton Library and online. According to Atrens, the technology, which is popular overseas, hasn’t quite caught on in Australia.
Describing the outcomes of the Gatton GSHP, Atrens says it has, since its construction in January this year, provided 51 megawatt-hours of cooling, the equivalent of cooling an average Brisbane house for approximately three-and-a-half years. However, they need a full year of data so that a comparative analysis can be made between the GSHP and conventional cooling systems.

Researchers from the UQ Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence add that the GSHP technology is less obtrusive than conventional systems, only requiring small holes in the ground for heat exchange. There are currently two different designs of the GSHP unit operating at Gatton Library, allowing researchers to determine the most effective design.

The Gatton GSHP will be officially opened on Thursday 16 July by Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey, UQ Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Rix, UQ School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering Head of School Professor David Mee, and Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence Independent Chair Professor Trevor Grigg.

Indonesia – New Zealand to Make Inroads into Indonesia’s Geothermal Energy: PM Key

In an exclusive interview with the Jakarta Globe, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said the country wants to make inroads into the energy sector in Indonesia – specifically geothermal energy – as well as into its aviation and film markets.

“New Zealand has a lot of expertise in geothermal energy and Indonesia is very rich in geothermal resources,” Key said on Monday the 18th of July.

The PM said developing geothermal energy is much more environmentally sustainable than building more coal-fired power plants to boost Indonesia’s power grid.

Long known in Indonesia for its high-quality beef products, the Land of the Long White Cloud has also begun to tap into the aviation sector by training Indonesia’s helicopter pilots and has been trying to lure more Indonesian filmmakers to use the scenic landscapes of New Zealand as the setting for their feature movies.

“We want to expand our range of activities and engagement – do more things together. Indonesia is a good market to do that,” the PM said.

Key praised President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s work for the work he has done so far. “Indonesia is the largest Muslim democracy and it is doing extremely well. It’s not an easy job, and I encourage [Jokowi] to keep doing what he’s doing,” he said.

The PM reflected on his previous visit to Indonesia and praised Jakarta for its growth, despite one consistent drawback: the traffic.

“It looks and feels more and more like successful Asian city, and I think if I come back in four years‘ time, there will be more significant changes. There’s no question that it’s really becoming a major Asian city,” Key said.

The PM believes the key for Indonesia’s growth is education and said New Zealand will offer scholarships for postgraduate studies and is collaborating with the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) to improve childhood education in Indonesia.

“For any country to succeed, you need education. The better educated the people, the better equipped they are to be able to handle the challenges of modern economy,” Key said, stressing that Indonesia needs to move away from its dependence on cheap, low-skilled labor market.

PM Key visited Jakarta on a brief tour to increase bilateral trade between Indonesia and New Zealand, and to launch a new international tourism campaign under its “100 percent Pure New Zealand” tagline.

Taiwan – Yilan Begins Work on Taiwan’s First Geothermal Power Plant

The local government of Yilan began exploratory drilling today in Sanxing Township for what it hopes will be Taiwan’s first geothermal power plant, CNA reported. The drilling stage is expected to take six months to complete.

As anti-nuclear power groups have gained sway in the government, Taiwan has sought alternative energy sources to cope with increased consumption.

A geothermal plant was developed in Datong Township in Yilan in the 1980s, but the project closed in 1993. Talks of exploring geothermal energy resurfaced in 2014 and the possibility was touted by the DPP. Academics estimated that 33,640 MW could be generated annually.


Armenia – First Geothermal Power Plant to Be Constructed in Armenia

Drilling works have begun for the construction of a geothermal power station in the Karkar community of Armenia’s Syunik province, the first-of-its-kind of geothermal plant in the country.

If the results of geological surveys carried out in the area are approved, a 30 MW geothermal power station will be constructed here with an annual production capacity of up to 250 million kilowatts of electricity.

The drilling works are co-financed by the Climate Investment Fund and the government which have provided $9 million and $2 million, respectively. Three wells with a depth of 1500 meters each will be dug. Based on the results, a final assessment of the area’s geothermal resource will be provided.

Accordingly, an international tender will be announced to find investors for the construction of the station, priority will be given to the participant offering the lowest price.

The construction of the plant is estimated at $100 million. It is an environmentally friendly and renewable energetic resource which can turn into a long-term source of electricity production in the event of correct operation.

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