Full steam ahead

Large geothermal project in Chile moves forward with intl. JV

An international Joint Venture agreement between Canadian firm Alterra and Philippines-based Energy Development Corporation advances 320 MW geothermal project.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013  
Chile’s many natural geysers and volcanoes are indicative of the country’s geothermal energy potenti Chile’s many natural geysers and volcanoes are indicative of the country’s geothermal energy potential. Photo by Vera & Jean-Christophe/Flickr.

 

The Mariposa geothermal project in Chile has received a significant funding boost, with companies Alterra Power Corp. and Energy Development Corporation (EDC) have entering into a multimillion dollar Joint Venture agreement. The Philippine company will earn a 70 percent interest by funding the next US$ 58.3 million of the project’s expenditures.

Mariposa is located 300 km south of Santiago in the Andes Mountains. Its total area of 104,000 hectares is comprised of the Laguna del Maule and Pellado concessions. Alterra has already conducted extensive exploration and infrastructural work at Mariposa, including three slim-hole wells and a 26 kilometer access road. The project is expected to harness 320 MW from the area’s geothermal system.

“This transaction represents a significant step forward for our geothermal assets in Chile,” John Carson, Alterra’s CEO, said. “EDC is a strong partner with deep expertise, and we’re pleased to be making this next step together.”

Geothermal plants heat water with energy generated from hotspots in the Earth’s crust, and use the resulting steam to power turbines and generators. Chile has 10 percent of the world’s total volcanoes, 20 percent of the world’s active volcanoes, and sits behind only Indonesia in geothermal energy potential.

Strides are being taken to add non-conventional renewable energy to Chile’s energy matrix, especially in solar and wind power generation, however the country as yet does not generate any energy through geothermal means. Alterra and EDC’s penetration into the country represents what could be the early stages of mass activity in Chile’s burgeoning geothermal industry.

Already, the Chilean government has entered into an agreement with New Zealand that will see the island nation impart its expertise in geothermal energy production as well as open up Chile to New Zealand based energy companies.

“Chile is seen as an important place for geothermal energy and this is reflected in the number of companies that are studying the possibility of investing here," Andrea Blair the geothermal business development manager at New Zealand-based consultancy GNS Science, told Renewable Energy World.

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