This post brings you geothermal headlines from Uganda, Antigua, the USA, and the Philippines.
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Uganda: Toshiba in Uganda Geothermal Thrust
Toshiba Corporation, the Japanese engineering and technology multinational wants to help Uganda develop its geothermal resources found in the western parts of the country.
“The development of Uganda’s geothermal energy resources is in line with our energy policy objectives of increasing power generation capacity and diversifying our energy mix in order to achieve least cost, affordable and stable energy supply,” Dr. Fred Kabagambe-Kaliisa, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development said in Nairobi on the sidelines of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development 2016.
Toyoaki Fujita, Business Development Executive of Toshiba’s Energy Systems and Solutions Company said, “We hope to build a strong partnership with Uganda and to contribute to the development of sustainable power supply there.
“Toshiba’s Energy Systems and Solutions Company is a world leader in geothermal power generation, and I believe that our established expertise can contribute to the geothermal power supply in Uganda,” he said.
Kabagambe-Kaliisa said, “We are very confident that the Government of Uganda and Toshiba will create a strong Public-Private-Partnership to develop the Geothermal Energy resources.”
Uganda has rich geothermal potential, equivalent to 500 megawatts.
Currently, about 60% of power generation capacity is from hydroelectric power, and the country has long promoted construction of hydro power plants. Adding geothermal to the mix will contribute to supply stability and the ability to meet rising demand stimulated by high economic growth-currently increasing at about 10% per a year.
In the African market, Toshiba most recently delivered four geothermal turbines to Kenya that started commercial operation in 2015. The company has also concluded MOUs with geothermal power development companies in Ethiopia in 2014, Tanzania in 2015 and Djibouti in August this year, all covering comprehensive collaboration in the geothermal power generation business.
Antigua – Antigua and Barbuda to Develop Geothermal Energy
Antigua and Barbuda has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Thermal Energy Partners for the future production of geothermal energy on the island.
Through this public-private partnership, Antigua’s first geothermal project will utilize Organic Rankine Cycle generation with 10 MW capacity.
“A project like this is consistent with the government’s goals and commitments from COP21 meetings in Paris. This agreement supports Antigua and Barbuda’s transition from high cost fossil fuels towards sustainable energy options and geothermal power will help play an important role toward this effort”, said Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gastone Browne.
Antigua becomes the latest Eastern Caribbean country to begin exploring geothermal energy, a group that includes St Kitts, Nevis, Grenada, Montserrat and St Lucia, among others.
“This is a great step to incorporate base-load renewable energy within our energy mix and it is a great opportunity for Antigua and Barbuda to partner with such a reputable U.S. company,” said Antigua and Barbuda Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy Minister Asot Michael.
“The signing of the agreement today is important for the future production of geothermal power in Antigua and Barbuda and this public, private partnership is a key first step to making this development a reality,” said Daniel K. Pfeffer, President of Thermal Energy Partners.
USA – Geothermal Project Could Warm Campus, Expand Energy Study
Cornell is pursuing a project that has the potential to eliminate an estimated 82,000 metric tons of carbon from its annual footprint and establish one of the country’s most advanced geothermal systems to heat the 745-acre Ithaca campus – an effort that could demonstrate a new scalable model for using this sustainable energy source throughout the U.S. and almost anywhere in the world.
Cornell is calling the project “Earth Source Heat.” This effort to explore the potential of enhanced-geothermal energy will combine Cornell’s world-leading energy and sustainability researchers with the living laboratory of Cornell’s facilities over the next two decades. Its first step will be a planned small-scale demonstration installation within about five years of a well pair that will reach into the basement rock more than two miles below the surface to tap the Earth’s vast heat reservoir. Water will be circulated in a closed loop through the rock and return to the surface to supply heat to the campus.
Should this small-scale demonstration project prove successful, Cornell will consider moving forward with plans to install a full-scale system to heat most buildings on the campus. During extremely cold weather, the system would be supplemented with heat from a biomass gasification facility, providing a second source of clean energy. Using local biomass resources, such as wood or nonfood crops, would be more efficient than over-sizing the geothermal system to handle peak-heating loads.
This hybrid system would be the first in the U.S. to combine enhanced-geothermal with a district-heating system capable of distributing hot water from a centralized location to multiple buildings. Domestically, only a handful of enhanced-geothermal sites are under development – and all are currently focused on electricity generation.
The eastern U.S. has not been considered attractive for enhanced-geothermal projects because of its lower geothermal temperature gradients compared with the West. However, a recent survey of the upper Appalachian basin conducted by Cornell Engineering revealed that subsurface heat deep in portions of New York and Pennsylvania is likely of sufficient quality to provide district heating to residential and commercial buildings. This is especially significant given the Northeast’s cold winters and dense population centers.
Geothermal energy is being discussed by Cornell leadership as a possible way to help meet ambitious net carbon emission reduction goals laid out in the university’s Climate Action Plan in 2009. Since that time, Cornell has reduced its emissions by more than 30 percent through several initiatives, including the construction of solar farms and the decommissioning of its coal-powered energy plant. Cornell is pursuing the Earth Source Heat project to eliminate up to an additional 38 percent of its emissions.
“Few institutions are as well positioned to demonstrate this advanced geothermal system as Cornell, which has leading faculty in all the relevant disciplines engaged in areas of research related to geothermal energy, combined with facilities engineers who are expert in deploying new technologies,” said Lance Collins, dean of Cornell Engineering and co-chair of the Senior Leaders Climate Action Group appointed by Cornell’s president to lead the drive for energy solutions on campus.
Cornell’s facilities also make it a unique candidate to deploy an enhanced-geothermal system.
“Our university’s ‘cogeneration’ combined heat and power plant currently pipes its excess heat via steam through campus using a district energy system. The system would have to be reconfigured to a hot-water system for enhanced-geothermal use,” said KyuJung Whang, vice president for infrastructure, properties and planning, and co-chair of the Senior Leaders Climate Action Group.
Cornell pursued a similarly ambitious project with its Lake Source Cooling system, which in July 2000 became one of the most significant energy initiatives to promote sustainability undertaken by an American university. The project established a system that pumps cold lake water through a heat exchanger to cool water circulated throughout campus. As a result, Cornell has seen an 86 percent reduction in energy use for campus cooling.
As it begins to explore Earth Source Heat, Cornell is engaging with community members and building a consortium of higher education, private business and government partners interested in helping move the project forward. The next steps will be to study, conceptually design, and develop technical and financial metrics for a small-scale demonstration project that would include a pair of wells, heat exchange facilities and interconnection for heating target areas of campus. After a full environmental assessment is completed, Cornell will develop a long-term process of continued community engagement to help determine the feasibility of developing a full-scale geothermal project.
The ultimate goal will be not just to significantly reduce carbon emission and create a new sustainable energy source at Cornell, but to advance new research and apply the lessons learned during Cornell’s Earth Source Heat project to create a new model for enhanced geothermal energy that can be scaled larger or smaller and applied around the world in areas long thought unsuitable for this carbon-free energy source.
And the impact of expanding this energy source in the United States alone could be sizable. According to a 2006 study chaired by Jeff Tester, director of the Energy Institute at Cornell and the Croll Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems in chemical and biomolecular engineering – and one of the faculty leaders of the Earth Source Heat effort – more than 100 gigawatts of electric capacity could be provided to the U.S. through enhanced-geothermal systems over the next 50 years. That represents 10 percent of the country’s overall electric capacity today. But to make enhanced-geothermal economically viable and to extend geothermal energy production beyond the western U.S., new enhanced geothermal district heating systems must be pioneered.
If Cornell’s Earth Source Heat project is successful, it could provide that much-needed blueprint that unleashes the potential of enhanced-geothermal energy.
Asia and the Pacific
Philippines – 3 Local Groups Eye Chevron Geothermal Assets
At least three big local conglomerates are looking at buying the domestic geothermal assets of American energy giant Chevron, which is seen unloading its Philippine and Indonesian geothermal units to focus on its core oil and gas businesses.
Ayala Corp., Lopez-led Energy Development Corp. and Aboitiz Equity Ventures are studying the geothermal assets of Chevron.
Chevron has a 40-percent interest in Philippine Geothermal Production Co. Inc. (PGPC), which develops and produces steam energy for the third-party-owned and -operated Tiwi and Mak-Ban geothermal power plants in southern Luzon with a combined generating capacity of 692 megawatts. The remaining 60 percent stake in PGPC is held by the Sy family of the SM group.
Chevron also has an interest in the Kalinga geothermal prospect area in northern Luzon.
AP Renewables, a unit of Aboitiz Power, is the operator of the southern Luzon power plants that use steam produced by PGPC using heat from the earth, which naturally makes the Aboitiz group one of the interested parties. The Aboitiz group bought the power plants from the state-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) in 2009.
Many other foreign and local parties are likewise interested in Chevron’s assets.
“We’re interested in geothermal and the Chevron opportunity is an attractive one,” John Eric Francia, president and CEO of AC Energy Holdings Inc., said in a text message.
“We would study any potential opportunity to expand our geothermal portfolio,” said Ramon Carandang, vice president at First Philippine Holdings, parent company of Energy Development Corp., which is the biggest producer of geothermal energy in the Philippines and the second largest in the world. “Whether we actually bid would depend on a number of factors,” he added.
Asked about the possible sale of Chevron assets in the country, AEV president Erramon Aboitiz said: “We obviously will be looking at the different opportunities that come along.”
Chevron is reportedly selling its geothermal assets in Indonesia and the Philippines with estimated value of $2.5 billion.
The sovereign fund China Investment Corp., Malakoff Corp., Marubeni Corp. of Japan, Ormat Technologies Inc. were among those reported to be interested in Chevron Corp.’s Asian geothermal assets
Chevron, the biggest US oil producer, is rationalizing operations amid a global oil price slump.
Based on earlier reports, Citigroup Inc. is advising Chevron on the geothermal asset sale.