El Salvador: Berlin geothermal plant plans turbine and steam supply upgrade

Berlin geothermal power plant of La Geo in El Salvador (source: Enex)
Alexander Richter 7 Sep 2015

A new turbine is expected to increase efficiency of power generation of the Berlin geothermal power plant complex in El Salvador.

Reported locally, the operator of the Berlin geothermal plant in El Salvador is planning to replace turbine of Unit 3 of the plant. The installed turbine consumes too much steam to generate power for its 44 MW name plate capacity. Having started operation in 2007,. the turbine uses some 22% more steam than the unit was designed for, which is equivalent to about 10 MW.

This was confirmed by David Lopez Villafuerte, the president of CEL (Comisión Ejecutiva Hidroeléctrica del Río Lempa).

“Consuming additional steam of about 10 MW, we could generate more electricity,” he reiterated. Therefore, López Villafuerte explained that it will add the turbine to Unit 5 in Berlin, which would replace the turbine installed by Enel.

The new component of the project would be situated at another location, while the turbine of Unit 3 would be replaced in the future by a smaller capacity, he said. “We are already buying land, setting up drilling pads, with the drilling program in Chinameca planned to secure additional  20 MW in generation capacity and add them to the 10 MW that we have at Unit 5 of the plant, “he said.

The replacement will cost about $40 million. The inefficiency of this turbine was key element of a lawsuit filed by CEL and the company Energy Investments (INE) against ENEL, in response to a first request filed by the Italians because he was not allowed to continue to invest and thus obtain a majority stake in LaGeo, in which participated since 2002.

Additionally, CEL plans to develop a binary technology power plant in the center of Berlin with 6 MW of capacity.

Recently, the Unit 1 of the Ahuachapán geothermal plant was shipped to the US for a scheduled routine machinery maintenance, Lopez said. “This Sunday machinery entered (the country) and the unit is being installed.

The development of a new project in Chinameca, which was announced last week, will be the country’s third geothermal field. The projects are funded by LaGeo, but financial partner that can contribute to evaluate new developments in the geothermal field are being sought.

El Salvador expects to increase its geothermal power generation capacity by 120 MW in the next three years with an investment of $500 million.

Source: Energias4e