Latin America and the Caribbean are integrated in the decarbonised energy transition with the development of wind energy, photovoltaic, solar thermal, geothermal energy and the acceptance of electric cars with lithium batteries.
Even with the great benefits of each one of these noble energies, one in particular is growing by leaps and bounds in the two regions, such as the use of geothermal energy. This one is being a renewable natural process through make the most useful of the heat generated in the central earth (magma) to produce steam at a particular temperature and pressure conditions, allowing it to push a system consisting in a steam turbine coupled to a electric generator.
As visible points, geothermal is found in geysers, volcanoes, hot springs, among others. Its main strength is that this technology is accessible 24 hours x 7 days a week, eliminating the problems of variability associated with other technologies such as solar and eolian energy. Is a clean energy because the waste steam after generating electricity can be condensed and reinjected back into the reservoir, in order to start a new cycle of energy production. In addition to its versatility due to it can produce electricity, provide hot water or indirect industrial use by using geothermal heat pumps.
This energy source has as another great advantage, which is almost inexhaustible by the constant heat within the Earth and by obtaining of fresh water and salts as a sub product, and its impact for the non-fuel use.
In Central America the Geothermal constitute the second most important renewable energy source in the region. To date there has been progress such as the investigation, development and exploitation potential of this resource and it is estimated in Central American region in the order of 5000 MW distributed among Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua; in the case of Panama and Honduras, there are only preliminary estimates, but the similarity of the geological-tectonic conditions versus its neighboring countries, indicates that there are potential resources for electricity generation.
Costa Rica, for example, has initiated the exploration of 2 steam deposits in the west, with the aim to install there the geothermal plants, The Palias II and Borinquen. They estimated 1.5 million dollars to invest in the necessary materials to make 10 exploratory drilling, which can reach up to 3,000 meters. An estimated geothermal potential is 865 MW. Guatemala is another reference of geothermal nation, which aims to generate 60% of its electricity needs through geothermal power plants by the year of 2.022. El Salvador already has two major geothermal power plants: one in Berlin, Usulután and the second one in Ahuachapán, which provides the 26% (180 MW) of total energy consumption of that nation. In Nicaragua, in geothermal field, started the first stage envisages the drilling of re injection water wells and wells that produce enough steam for power generation, the construction of cooling towers, a plant to distribute power and turbine installation These activities are part of the San Jacinto Tizate project, implemented by Polaris Energy Nicaragua, which hopes to generate with its two 72 MW turbines.
In the Caribbean, the two islands that constitute the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis have recently discovered several geothermal sites that they would provide 50 MW of clean energy. As consumer needs are only 10 MW, these two islands are called to become the first country in the world with zero emissions. In addition to becoming energy self-sufficient country, St. Kitts and Nevis will export the surplus energy produced to other Caribbean nations.
Also, Dominica, has initiated efforts in geothermal exploration in Soufriere. Up to date the results are good enough to encourage investors in developing projects of this type of energy. The same activity is perform by Santa Lucia, in agreement with the U.S. company Qualibou Energy who develop geothermal power plants that combine will have a capacity of 120 MW, enough for the island of 175,000 inhabitants, the use and export. About 1 / 3 of the energy generated will be used on the same island. The rest will be exported to Martinique by an underwater cable.
In South America, Chile has a high geothermal potential due to is located in the area of volcanic activity known as the Ring of Fire, in the Pacific, which allowed the initiation of exploration activities, with the private sector to identify investment proposals. To do this, there were assigned in concession 17 geothermal areas and nine companies with an investment of more than 106 million dollars over the next two years. Colombia too, is conducting feasibility studies in the area surrounding the volcano Nevado del Ruiz. The project, in principle, has a cost of $ 190 million and includes the completion of feasibility studies, environmental and financial, exploration drilling, production drilling, infrastructure adequacy of access, connection to the national transmission system, supply of equipment, plant construction and commercial operation.
Another important source of geothermal South America, is found in Bolivia, in the Laguna Colorada, that is located in the Andean department of Potosí (southwest), bordering with Chile. With an estimated potential of 6500 megawatts (Mw), Ecuador looks like the power of geothermal energy as an option in the short term. For that, is developing the draft Carchi which is part of a binational plan with Colombia, because the site is on the border between the two countries. Peru's estimated potential to generate electricity with geothermal energy from hot springs, is about 3,000 megawatts (MW). This amount has been estimated by Japanese experts and announced in the south of the country that began studies for power generation in geothermal Borate fields and Hot Borate deposits in the department of Tacna. According to feasibility studies presented, the electricity generation potential of both fields is 150 Mw, 100 Mw and Hot borate deposits would provide 50 MW.
Argentina estimated installed for the current year, the first geothermal power plant. This plant will be located in the unpopulated area in the Valle del Cura (Church) about 370 kilometers from the city and contribute to the electrical system of the province of San Juan 5 megawatts at an early stage, with an initial investment of 7 million U.S. $ 2 for exploratory tasks that start today and 5 million for the construction of the plant. Also, to be announced immediate expansion in the second stage, up to increase power generation to 150 megawatts.
Venezuela, in the east of the country has the highest geothermal potential. Estimate an energy generation in the order of 150 Mw. The first engineering has been initiated and there is a high interest from the private sector, national and international, to invest in the development of these energy plans.
With geothermal energy, Latin America and the Caribbean are bundle up your child from the heat of Mother Nature. Everything indicates that we have unlimited power to develop and make us a great continent.
Clean energy to save the planet will be the watchword of the new century!