CEL plans 35 MW of geothermal expansion in El Salvador
At a speech given during GEOLAC 2022, CEL President Daniel Alvarez discussed El Salvador's current geothermal landscape and plans for expansion.
During the 9th Geothermal Congress for Latin America and the Caribbean (GEOLAC) in Mexico, Lempa River Hydroelectric Executive Commission (CEL) President Daniel Alvarez discussed the current state of the geothermal industry in El Salvador and plans for expansion.
Through LaGeo, El Salvador has a total installed geothermal power capacity of 204 MWe across its two plants – one in Ahuachapan and another in the municipality of Berlin in Usulatan. This represents about 25% of the energy consumption in El Salvador.
Expansion plans are already underway with the construction of two geothermal fields in San Vicente and in Chinameca, which will add 35 MW of capacity to the national energy mix. Alvarez had previously stated that geothermal energy can support up to 35% of the country’s energy mix during the High-Level Meeting of the Global Geothermal Alliance of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
However, studies done by LaGeo have also indicated that there is up to 95 MW of potential geothermal capacity that is yet to be tapped in El Salvador. Thus, the current expansion work is only the first phase of several being deliberated by authorities.
The expansion plan is carried out through a BOT model (Construction Operation Transfer) for the construction of the new geothermal plants, something that the recent reforms to the CEL Law and the Electricity Law endorse; Therefore, an international competition was recently launched for expert companies in the construction of geothermal plants.
In addition, the head of CEL highlighted the extensive geothermal knowledge that El Salvador has, an example of this is that in recent years more than 300 graduates have been given to both nationals and foreigners. Earlier this year, LaGeo announced plans of putting up an International Centre of Excellence in geothermal in El Salvador.
“In fact, several countries have sought us out so that we can train them in different topics related to geothermal energy,” added President Alvarez, who also assured the geothermal countries that, thanks to the support of international organizations such as (IRENA), very soon El Salvador will have a first-rate study center, positioning the country as a benchmark in geothermal science teaching for Latin America and the Caribbean.