New Geothermal Drilling Project Opens Up in Chile

Photo courtesy of Ormat Technologies

Chile’s Committee on Geothermal Energy Analysis has recommended that the country’s Minister of Energy award Nevada’s Ormat Technologies’ Chilean subsidiary, Ormat Andina, exploration concessions for five sites.

Ormat made the announcement as geothermal energy industry participants from around the world are gathered in San Diego this week for the Geothermal Energy Association’s “GEA Geothermal Energy Expo 2011.”

Chile Geothermal Exploration Awards

The Chilean Ministry of Energy evaluated exploration proposals for 20 geothermal energy prospects across the country in its latest tender. The Chilean Committee charged with evaluating them recommends that Ormat Andina be granted exploration concessions for all five tender blocks that it applied for. The five concessions are named “Aroma,” “Quinohuen,” “Marimar,” “San Jose II” and “Sollipulli.”

The potential to develop geothermal energy in Chile is high, yet it’s been almost completely undeveloped to this point in time.

Ormat CEO Dita Bronicki said that the recommendation to award Ormat Andina all five of the concessions it applied for is indicative of the company’s market leadership.

The recommendation “reinforces Ormat’s position as a leader in the geothermal industry as well as demonstrates our experience as a vertically integrated technology provider with a strong commitment to the development of green-field geothermal projects throughout the world,” she stated in a press release.

Ormat has engineered geothermal power plants that it either owns, supplies and/or manages for utility providers and project developers worldwide. These total some 1,370 megawatts (MW) gross capacity of clean, baseload (24×7) electricity. It also engineers, installs and operates recovered energy power plants.

At present, its generating portfolio consists of 16 geothermal and recovered energy power plants in the US, Guatemala and Kenya.

2011 GEA Industry Expo Highlights Southern California’s Geothermal Power Potential

Here in the US, the GEA’s latest annual “U.S. Geothermal Power Production and Development Report” shows that geothermal power is being used to produce clean energy in nine states. Projects under development total 146 across 15 states, with the total number of geothermal projects and prospects under development having increased 12% in 2011.

To kick off the 2011 industry expo, participants who signed up were given a tour of Ormat and CalEnergy U.S.’ geothermal facilities in California’s Imperial Valley, which supply clean, baseload electrical power Southern California.

In tandem with the Imperial Valley tour, the GEA released a report that examines the region’s geothermal resources entitled, “Energizing Southern California’s Economy: The Economic Impacts and Potential for Geothermal Energy in Southern California.”

Geothermal energy provided approximately 42 percent of California’s commercial, in-state renewable electricity generation, according to the GEA.

“The GEA report finds that if California were a separate country, it would be the world leader in geothermal power production, with more than 2,500 MW of installed geothermal capacity,” according to the report.

“Southern California alone would rank fifth in installed geothermal capacity behind Mexico (958 MW), and ahead of Italy (843 MW). Millions more California homes and businesses could have their energy needs met through the geothermal energy that is waiting to be tapped in Southern California.”

An independent journalist, researcher and writer, my work roams across the nexus where ecology, technology, political economy and sociology intersect and overlap. The lifelong quest for knowledge of the world and self -- not to mention gainful employment -- has led me near and far afield, from Europe, across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa and back home to the Americas. LinkedIn: andrew burger Google+: Andrew B Email:

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