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Funding approved for geothermal heat project in Almeria, Spain

Funding approved for geothermal heat project in Almeria, Spain View over Almeria, Spain (source: flickr/ Roberto, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 15 Aug 2021

The developer of three planned geothermal heat plants has received funding of EUR 9 million for drilling wells in Almeria, Spain.

The Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving (IDAE) has provisionally granted 8,447,890 euros in non-refundable funds to the Almeria-based company Cardial Recursos Alternativos for the development of the first three geothermal plants in Spain located in Níjar. The first of 13.36 MW will receive EUR 3,059,440;  EUR 2,928 million for a second plant of 15.25 MW and EUR 2,460,450 for the one with the highest capacity, with 17.45 MW, according to the proposed resolution of the body dependent on the ministry led by Teresa Ribera. If this subsidy is definitively confirmed, it would be the first time that the construction of a thermal plant has been carried out in Spain, destined to heat greenhouses on the “second line” of the Almeria coast, fed by a geothermal field at more than 2 hours.

The distribution of these subsidies is included in the framework of the ‘Lines of aid for investment in thermal and renewable electricity co-financed with European Union Funds’, managed by the IDAE and covered by the European Regional Development Fund (Feder) , aimed at strengthening economic and social cohesion in the European Union and correcting its imbalances. 

“The aid will be granted through a non-refundable grant, which can be co-financed with ERDF, which will be received by the beneficiary, definitively, once the execution of the project is verified, the investment and the payment request is certified is accepted by the ERDF Management Authority. In order to facilitate the financing of the projects, 80% of the aid granted may be advanced to the beneficiary”, Indicates the ministry in an informative note.

In the case of the three Nijar plants, at the proposal of the same promoter Cardial for the exploration area granted, the execution period is considered by the sector excessively short, due to its complexity and the absence in Spain of drilling companies capable of reaching depths greater than 2,000. According to the person in charge and promoter of the project, Carlos Díaz Álamo, only the Spanish company Romera could do it, but it is specialized in water collection. This process has little to do with drilling geothermal wells and inserting tubes, through which heat is transported from deep underground to the surface.

Pandemic and punch

Díaz maintains that he has carried out three successful drillings at depths of 900 (executed in 2003 for thermal waters), 500 and 2,000 meters, where they have located a temperature of 105ºC, although he does not specify the flow of the geothermal wells, a fundamental aspect to evaluate the viability economic of a project. It maintains that the drilling teams have not been able to calculate it accurately, due to the accumulated ‘detritus’ in the extractions.

All these details can be contrasted and assessed when the drilling rig and the equipment they have hired (or in the process of hiring) arrive in Spain, Nijar, to drill more than 2,400 meters deep. 

The provisional granting of almost EUR 9 million of subsidy to the project of the three geothermal plants serves as a guarantee for Cardial to obtain a loan from Bankia (now Caixabank) and to be able to continue with the preparatory work, pending the long-awaited drilling machine , whose cost per linear meter can exceed EUR 2,400, plus transport.

The Cardial project is part, of the first 27 calls managed by the IDAE under the program endowed with EUR 316 million and aimed at the different autonomous communities, which have participated in its design and in the evaluation of projects. The final resolutions will take place in the coming weeks, after the allegations period. All these projects must be completed by June 30, 2023.

Source: Geotermia Online