Geothermal in Kenya, Canada, USA, Indonesia, New Zealand, Philippines

This post brings you geothermal headlines from Kenya, Canada, USA, Indonesia, New Zealand, and the Philippines.


Suswa, Kenya – an area where GDC will develop geothermal fields.

Image Credit: Flickr/ Wajahat Mahmood


Kenya – GDC to Develop Geothermal Fields in Suswa

The GDC will start development of geothermal fields in Suswa in two months. In a new business model, the Geothermal Development Company will explore and develop the steam fields, while private companies will compete for licenses to build the power plants.

GDC managing director Johnson ole Nchoe said they expect to get requisite funding and the necessary approvals in the coming months. “We have already finalized on the exploration side, our scientist tells us the site could inject between 600-1000MW to the national grid,” he said.

Nchoe said the Italian government has pledged to fund the project. “The drilling of the wells requires huge amounts of water, which is unavailable in Suswa,” he said. GDC has already received Sh51 billion in loans and grants.


The Americas

Canada – Alberta Could Turn Abandoned Oil Wells Into Green Energy Sources

Alberta’s abandoned oil wells could soon be transformed into sites for green energy production.

As the province’s oil industry continues to slump there’s been debate over whether government or corporations should pay for the clean up of so-called orphan wells.
The Living Energy Project pilot project is working to convert an abandoned oil well to one that captures geothermal energy. If it works, it could not only ease the debate over the well clean up, but also create jobs for out-of-work Albertans.

On Monday, MLA Shaye Anderson formally submitted a proposal to use an oil well in Leduc for the pilot.

“Alberta has nearly 170,000 abandoned oil wells. Converting them to geothermal energy helps oil companies’ bottom line, cuts down methane leakage, produces free energy and gets oil service firms back to work,” Mitchell Pomphrey, manager of the Living Energy Project, told Alberta Oil Magazine.

Abandoning a well can cost up to $300,000, according to Reuters. Converting it to geothermal and constructing a greenhouse above it costs less than half of that amount.
Drilling into the earth is one of the biggest costs of installing a geothermal energy source. With abandoned oil wells, the hardest part is already done.

Nick Wilson, director of The Living Energy Project, explained to the Devon Dispatch how the technology works:

“An abandoned well naturally fills up with water, which at that depth is warm. We’re simply going to pump that around a loop into the building where a heat extractor will take the heat out of it and convert it to hot air … therefore we can cut our gas bill … and then the cold water is circulated back around the pipeline loop into the well.”

Alberta’s oil industry has spent over $200 million to clean abandoned wells over the past 25 years, according to The Globe and Mail.


USA – New Berkeley County School Geothermal Systems to Save Energy, Money

The installation of new geothermal heating and cooling systems at three Berkeley County elementary schools continued Monday as contractors put the finishing touches on a major part of a systemwide energy-savings project.

With two weeks remaining before students return to class Aug. 22, Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon said the major energy-savings-focused renovations at Mill Creek Intermediate School and Opequon and Valley View elementary schools are nearly completed.

“We’re into the cleanup phase right now – furniture being placed, dusting and getting ready for teachers on (Aug. 17),” he said.

At Mill Creek Intermediate School, Arvon said visitors will see a lot of site work, with grading and seeding as a result of the geothermal-system installation.

“It’s like digging up a football field,” he said.

Besides the three major school projects, about 30 percent of the more than 23,000 lights eyed for replacement in school district facilities have been changed as of Monday.

Door weatherstripping, window caulking, and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning control-system work improvements also are in various stages of completion.

Arvon said energy-management improvements made this summer are estimated to have already saved about $300,000.

The school district is expected to save at least $1.7 million per year as part of an energy-performance contract with a Kentucky-based firm that was approved in May.

New geothermal systems will be installed next summer at Berkeley Heights, Gerrardstown, Rosemont and Tuscarora elementary schools.

Arvon said the work done at Valley View and Opequon elementary schools has resulted in significant noise reduction in the 1970s-era “open space”-designed buildings.

Doors have been installed and dual-switch lighting controls also have been localized in the two schools, transforming them into more traditional self-contained classrooms.

“When we put walls up in those buildings to give separation, there were 10-foot spaces that were left open because of the old HVAC system, you had to be able to rotate the air,” Arvon said.

At Mill Creek Intermediate School, the new geothermal system replaced an old chiller system that required continual maintenance, he said.

About 24 miles of pipe was installed underground for the three geothermal systems, according to school officials.

“This is a looped system, so you’re not digging down and getting well water and running it through the system,” Arvon said. “It’s a closed loop, you fill those pipes up (with water), and it just circulates.”

More wells had to be dug for Mill Creek Intermediate School due, at least in part, to geological conditions at the property, he said.

“When the students and teachers and staff enter those buildings, I am sure they are going to be even more excited than what they had anticipated their excitement to be from working in the buildings as (they) once functioned,” he said.


Asia and the Pacific

Indonesia – PLN Eyeing 50% Stake in Pertamina Geothermal

State-owned power company PLN has expressed interest in acquiring 50-percent stake in Pertamina Geothermal Energy (PGE). PLN president director Sofyan Basir said the plan has been approved by the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises.

“We have met with the SOE Minister and the president director of Pertamina,” he said yesterday.

According to Sofyan, though a joint-shareholding together with Pertamina, PGE can be more expansive in the geothermal sector, which is in line with the government’s target to develop geothermal energy to provide 500 MW of electricity each year.

Sofyan said the acquisition of PGE will also cut the cost for supplying geothermal energy, because PLN will no longer have to make power purchase agreements with PGE.
Sofyan did not say specify how the company would source the funding to acquire PGE. Sofyan also did not mention the budget for the acquisition, which is targeted for completion this year.

Pertamina president director Dwi Soetjipto said the PGE acquisition discourse depends on the due diligence and feasibility studies processes.

Meanwhile, the SOE Ministry of SOEs was unable to be asked to confirm this plan. The Energy Ministry’s Director General of Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Rida Mulyana said that she “did not want to confirm rumors. It could just be something to test the water,” she said.


New Zealand – Contact Energy Unlikely to Develop Taheke Geothermal Project

In a recent release on its annual results, New Zealand based Contact Energy has announced strong cash flows, but also news on its Taheke geothermal power project.
In 2010 we reported on Contact Energy’s partnership with Taheke 8C Trust on the development plans for the Taheke geothermal field. In 2013, Contact Energy announced a delay in the development.

Now Contact Energy reports that the “Taheke geothermal resource is unlikely to be developed in the foreseeable future” and has reported a statutory loss for the year, partly due to the assessment on a stop to the Taheke project.

In a market that increasingly sees a stagnating energy demand, this is maybe not surprising, but these are still sad news for New Zealand’s geothermal sector.


Philippines – Philippine EDC Wins $32 Million Settlement with Geothermal Plant Insurers

Philippine company Energy Development Corp has reached a $32 million settlement with the insurers of its 140-MW Bacon-Manito (Bacman) geothermal plant in respect of an incident in February 2013.

The geothermal and wind power plant operator said Friday that its wholly-owned unit Bac-Man Geothermal Inc (BGI) entered into the settlement agreement with the group of insurers on August 12. Under its terms, Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corp, Mapfre Insular Insurance Corp, Malayan Insurance Co Inc, QBE Seaboard Insurance Philippines Inc, New India Assurance Co Ltd, PNB General Insurers Co Inc and UCPB General Insurance Co Inc are required to pay BGI the entire sum by September 2, 2016.

The Bacman geothermal plant is located in Palayan Bayan, Albay province. The claims related to its damaged unit were submitted by EDC on August 29, 2014, under the insurance policies for an indemnity for all loss, damage and costs incurred by BGI as a result of the incident, including material damage, business interruption and claims preparation costs among others. The BacMan I Unit 2 has been out of order for 15 months in total.

In order to return Bacman’s Unit 2 to operation as soon as possible, EDC and BGI resorted to a “twin track approach” of repairing the damaged Ansaldo steam turbine rotor in Indonesia whilst buying a new replacement steam turbine rotor from Japan’s Toshiba. At present, all three Units of the geothermal plant are operational and the facility is producing a gross output of approximately 140 MW, according to the statement.


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