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Geothermal Initiative in the Andes aims to unleash geothermal potential

IRENA workshop, March 2013, Reykjavik, Iceland (source: Piensa En Geotermia)
Alexander Richter 1 Apr 2013

IRENA launches the Geothermal Initiative in the Andes, in collaboration with the Latin America Energy Organization (OLADE) and the International Geothermal Association (IGA) to unleash the regions geothermal energy potential.

A recent workshop of Experts held by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in collaboration with the Latin America Energy Organization (OLADE) and the International Geothermal Association (IGA) in Reykjavik Iceland, launched the Geothermal Initiative in the Andes. The initiative aims to unleash the geothermal potential of the Andes region in South America.

The IRENA release states that “Latin America’s Andes mountain countries could produce thousands of megawatts of clean energy from underground heat and are asking countries and organisations with geothermal energy experience the best ways to do it.

Experts from Iceland, Mexico, New Zealand and France shared their lessons and expertise with Andean representatives at the geothermal development workshop on 4-5 March in Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital renowned for heat and power from thermal springs and geysers.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) held the workshop to launch the Geothermal Initiative in the Andes, in collaboration with the Latin America Energy Organization (OLADE) and the International Geothermal Association (IGA).

Latin America holds some of the world’s richest geothermal resources, with total potential estimated at 35,500 megawatts (MW). A significant portion of this is concentrated in the Andean sub-region, consisting of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, all with vast potential yet limited development in geothermal energy. The energy ministries of all five countries took part in the meeting.

“Geothermal has the potential to provide baseload energy for countries in the Andes. But while the cost of electricity produced is very competitive, the initial, high cost that needs to be invested to explore the resource proves to be a major barrier to geothermal development,” said IRENA’s director for country support and partnerships, Gauri Singh.

The discussions covered regulatory frameworks, capacity building and methods of financing for geothermal projects, including how to structure risk-mitigation funds. Along with the participating states, participants cited examples of best practices in the sector from Kenya and the Philippines.

“The conference in Iceland succeeded in generating a very frank discussion amongst governments regarding the barriers that are holding the sector back, and the concrete steps that need to be taken by governments to address the gaps,” Ms Singh added. “Also, it identified very clearly the areas of intervention and the potential partners for IRENA to assist those countries to overcome the barriers.”

Andean governments are working with IRENA to prepare a roadmap for the development of geothermal energy in the sub-region, which could provide a template for wider regional clean energy strategies, including in the eastern Caribbean.

IRENA promotes the adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy, aiming for sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth. The two-year-old intergovernmental agency is headquartered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and encompasses 160 participating states.

ThinkGeoEnergy and PiensaGeotermia participated in the workshop and presented on Best Practices for financing of geothermal energy projects.

Source: IRENA press release by email