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Feasibility study planned for Chachimbiro geothermal project, Ecuador

Drilling rig on site at Chachimbiro, Ecuador (source: CELEC)
Alexander Richter 12 Dec 2018

Power utility CELEC in Ecuador is planning further drilling at the Chachimbiro geothermal project in Imbabura province as pre-feasiblity studies, supported by the Japanese Government, have been successful.

At an altitude of 3,500 meters in Chachimbiro in Imbabura province, Ecuador a planned geothermal project could be pushed further. The area of the project site is surrounded by the Chachimbiro volcano and hot springs has a reservoir of water in the underground part , which exceeds 200 degrees Celsius. That is, its temperature is four times higher than that of the hot springs at the site.

These conditions will allow, when the infrastructure is built , to use the steam that comes out under pressure from inside the earth to move some turbines and generate electrical energy , says Francisco Astudillo, specialist of projects of the Business Unit of Termopichincha.

To identify this potential, technicians from the Electricity Corporation of Ecuador (CELEC), advised by specialists from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), performed a first drilling campaign in 2017, we reported on it. A metallic infrastructure, similar to an oil well that stands out in a plain, is the result of the work executed in this area.

The resource to develop geothermal energy was found at 1,978 meters depth. It was also determined that the characteristics of the underground rocks of this site are suitable to implement a plant of this type. For these projects the rocks are required to be permeable. That is, allow the water extracted from the underground reservoir to re-enter when it is re-injected.

These evidences are part of the pre – feasibility studies of this project, which cost around USD 8 million. They were financed by the Government of Japan.

CELEC explains that this source provides energy reliably throughout the year, because it is not affected by the seasonality of rain, sun or wind.

The purpose now is to carry out the feasibility studies. For this, it is planned to have the financing of the Government of Japan.

In this phase the characteristics that the plant will have will be established. As part of this work, the Celec will develop in the medium term six additional holes that allow to size the size of the geothermal reservoir and the power of the plant.

Eduardo Rosero, president of the Ecuadorian Association of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency , said it is positive to explore new sources of energy to diversify the energy matrix.

The first studies of this project began in the 70s and were resumed in 2010. Ecuador today has an installed capacity of over 7,000 MW. The main source is the hydroelectric.

Source: El Comercio