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Ormat committed to restart of Puna geothermal plant, but that might take years

Lava creeping onto the site of the Puna geothermal plant, Hawaii - 22 May 2018 (source: screenshot, CNBC)
Alexander Richter 24 Jul 2018

Ormat remains committed to a restart of the Puna geothermal power plant on Hawaii's Big Island, but with ongoing challenges and infrastructure damage that might take 2-3 years at a minimum.

Early this month, a local news outlet updated on the status of the Puna geothermal power plant. With its challenges and the lava-triggered shutdown, the parent company of operator Puna Geothermal Venture have affirmed their commitment to re-opening the plant.

It even told the about 30 full-time workers that they will remain on payroll for at least another 12 months.

The plant though faces a number of issues, the road to the plant has been cut off by the lava, no one knows when actual lava flows will stop. With the plant providing up to 30% of the Big Island’s power supply before the lava-enforced shut-down and assurances by the local utility HELCO that it will be easy to replace the geothermal power. Things might not be that easy.

The plant is still facing lava flowing through the parcel of land where it is located and there are six production wells and five injection wells on site.

So far lava has covered three of the wells and burned a power substation, as well as a drilling rig in a warehouse on site.

Executives of Ormat visited the island several weeks ago and confirmed their willingness to re-open the plant and telling “workers that their employment would continue while the company monitors the situation”.

Based on local policies, there will be no road work until after six months of lava inactivity. There also continue to be high level of sulfur dioxide emissions that don’t allow to stay close to the plant.

Ormat has sent some workers to work on the company’s plants somewhere else.

But even if things go smoothly it will be at least 2-3 years until the plant could be operational again, according to Mayor Harry Kim.

Source: StarAdvertiser