Ecuador to advance with geothermal exploration at Chachimbiro and Chacana
Ecuador is going to advance development of two geothermal projects, with planned drilling for the Chachimbiro project and a thermal gradient study for the Chacana project.
Ecuador with funds from JICA and GDF will advance geothermal exploration in the geothermal fields of Chachimbiro, where temperatures of 235 ° C were recorded in the drilled well, and Chacana, where a series of gradient wells will be made.
At the GEOLAC 2018 Conference, held in Mexico City, on July 17 and 18, the state of the geothermal industry in Ecuador was presented.
The Government has a Master Plan for Electricity, where geothermal energy, along with other renewable energies, is seen as a complement to the country’s hydro power generation and will have special relevance in the periods of low water, in which the production of hydroelectric power plants is reduced. One of the Government’s objectives is to maintain a high share of renewable energies in the electricity generation matrix, which currently has around 90% of renewable energy. During the year, the months from October to March turn out to be the months when water availability decreases, a situation that could intensify with the growth of demand and the effects of climate change. that in recent years have been evidenced by long cycles of drought in the region.
In recent years, the Government of Ecuador has promoted a program for the creation of local geothermal capacities, through training programs developed with countries with vast experience such as Iceland, Japan, El Salvador (LaGeo) and Costa Rica (ICE). In addition, it developed infrastructure for the execution of exploration campaigns, for which CELEC EP, the public generation and transmission company, acquired geophysical equipment, implemented a rock laboratory and is implementing a laboratory for the analysis of water and gases.
Currently, Ecuador does not have a specific law for geothermal development, so the Government is working on schemes that may be viable and attractive to develop geothermal energy. CELEC EP will continue promoting the study of the main geothermal prospects as a mechanism to reduce the high risks inherent to the exploitation of this resource. In this sense, today private individuals interested in investing in Ecuador can approach the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy to propose participation scenarios and discuss proposals that support their development.
Geothermal Development in Ecuador
In Chachimbiro, in November 2017, the first geothermal drilling was completed. The well was financed by JICA, through a non-reimbursable fund. The results of the well are positive, a temperature of 235 ° C was measured, which is planning the second stage of this project that considers the drilling of 6-10 additional wells and the installation of a wellhead plant up to 5MW. The government of Ecuador will manage an OAD loan with the government of Japan through JICA and the execution of Stage 2 will be tendered by CELEC EP under the JICA regulations. According to the results of this stage, the construction of a plant with an estimated capacity of 50 MW will be continued.
In Chacana, the development of a thermal gradient study is planned, for which gradient wells will be drilled. With these results the objectives of deep drilling will be defined. This project is financed by 40% by the GDF and CELEC contributes the remaining 60%. The GDF funds were obtained in the first call made by GDF.