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Chile exploring its low-enthalpy geothermal opportunities

View over Santiago, Chile (source: flickr/ patrickcoe, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 1 Sep 2015

Chile sees large opportunities in low heat temperature utilisation from geothermal resources, e.g. for district heating and direct use.

With its geographical/ geological location, Chile has a lot of active volcanism, providing the country with high geothermal gradient.

This provides Chile with among the highest geothermal potential in South America.  The use of what is known as low-enthalpy geothermal geothermal systems, which are temperatures below 90ºC is common in about 80 countries world, those who do not necessarily share the privileged geological context of Chile.

The Geothermal Centre of Excellence Los Andes University of Chile (CEGA) has worked on the creation of a geo-referenced map of the locations of metropolitan areas in which geothermal energy could be used.

The objectives of the map is to have better tools at hand for planning growth in cities, but also to create industrial zones for future use that could utilise geothermal energy for heating or cooling.

Initial investment into geothermal projects is high, but for direct use and district heating the overall threshold is much lower, particularly given the energy benefits. Geothermal heating could cost of 50-80% compared to conventional oil and gas systems.

Source: Economía y negocios