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Geothermal project could restart at Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia

Macizo Volcanico del Ruiz, Columbia (source: Recursos Naturales de Colombia)
Alexander Richter 29 Mar 2017

Work on a geothermal project at the Nevado del Ruiz Volcano in Colombia, could start as early as next year with exploration work.

Following more than 20 years of discussions, it now appears like the geothermal project at Macizo Volcánico Nevado del Ruíz in Colombia can get started.

After about 20 years of promoting the plan for the development of this project through Geoenergía Andina (Gesa),  John Jairo Granada, Manager of Chec, says that the goal is to have a final concept on the environmental management plan and restart the exploration phase for the project.

While the financing process is still ongoing, there is some interest by German firms to support the project.

The project has an estimated development potential of 50 MW and pre-feasibility studies were finished a while ago. The investment so far has been an estimated $6 million. At the current stage an investment of around $24 millon is required. There are already some earlier exploratory wells, which can be evaluated.

Julián López Palacio, coordinator of the geothermal project of Chec, said that the objective is to check the temperature and pressure, in order to determine if the conditions are fulfilled to generate energy through steam at high temperatures. The exploratory phase began with Gesa in 1997 at the Nereidas 1 well on the Pyrenees estate.

There was demonstrated a water level of 680 meters of depth and a temperature near to the 200 degrees Celsius.

From there, the exploration process began until 2,000 meters, but only reached up to 1,400. For this reason the results were not determinant, because there was also no steam flow.

Following this early exploration, there were no funds available to further pursue the project at that time.

Lopez said he hopes the project will not be derail again. “We have been in this process for five years and we have invested about $ 6 million, including geotechnical, MT, geological, geophysical and chemical studies,” he said.

After the concept and endorsement of Corpocaldas, the task is to start the explorations in 2018, a process that could take between 6 and 10 months. In 2019 you would know if this region has geothermal energy potential or not.

In 2015 Isagén also put his eyes on Villamaría to promote a similar geothermal project. The joint venture company Toshiba West Japan Engineering Consultants, Inc. (West JEC) and Schlumberger signed the memorandum of understanding to evaluate the possibility of establishing a strategic alliance with the aim of developing the first geothermal power plant in Colombia with a capacity of Generation of 50 megawatts. The entity stressed that in case of success, the plant would be in commercial operation in 2020. For now it is in the stage of pre-feasibility and request for environmental license.

 

Currently Colombia derives about 70% of its electricity from hydropower, with gas or hydro-carbon-based thermal generation accounts for around 30%.

 

Source: La Patria, some background on the project and Colombian geothermal efforts can be found in this document from 2014