Chile’s Ministry of Mines estimates 16,000 MW geothermal potential in the country

Alexander Richter 10 Jun 2009

Chile's Ministry of Mines estimats that the potential of geothermal power in the country could reach 16 thousand megawatts (MW), which is higher than the entire electrical generating capacity installed in Chile.

Reported in Chile, “the tender and subsequent operation of 20 private areas throughout the country where they can extract energy from the depths of the earth (geothermal) would double the electricity generation in Chile. It is clean and limitless energy, which will reduce dependence on non-renewable sources, which come mainly from abroad.
The projections of the Ministry of Mines estimated that the potential of geothermal power in our country could reach 16 thousand megawatts (MW), which is higher than the entire electrical generating capacity installed in Chile. The national electric system currently has an installed capacity to generate 13 thousand MW and its parent is primarily hydroelectric and thermal (coal and gas), but the Argentine crisis of the fluid to diversify.
“Of all these exploration projects to be developed in the medium term, it is expected that 10 of them amount to large projects in power generation with a contribution of at-least-100 MW each,” said Minister Mining, Santiago González.
The secretary of state said that once selected fields economically viable, they require investments of U.S. $ 200 million each to come into operation and integrate their output to the national electricity generation.
No large deposits of gas or oil, Chile offers comparative advantages to other emerging energy sources: heat from the interior of the Earth. Its location in the string of fire “of the Pacific, causing earthquakes and focuses on national territory 10% of the volcanoes of the world, put our country in a privileged position on the matter.
The great activity which is recorded under the crust shortens the depth in some places between the rock and the hot surface. The heat transferred to water tanks by underground geothermal plant can use it with applications of direct use and geothermal heat pumps.
Therefore, to exploit the sites are distributed in mountain areas throughout the country.
The 20 areas that are bidding the Ministry of Mining Tacora extend from the volcano, in the Region of Arica and Parinacota until Sollipulli in the Araucanía Region.
They have hot springs, volcanoes and fault coming to denote the existence of geothermal resources. The exploration campaign should use complex technologies suited to the exploration and hydrocarbon layers in order to locate and confirm the source of heat and define its size and characteristics.
This requires investment of US$ 300 thousand to US$ 1 million in superficial stages 10 and US$ 15 million during the drilling of wells.
The Luksic group Endesa and are among the big companies that have explored the development of geothermal projects.
Source: Portal Minero Chile (in Spanish)