IDB to fund geothermal pilot project in Neuquen, Argentina

IDB to fund geothermal pilot project in Neuquen, Argentina Domuyo, Neuquén, Argentina (source: Angel Valdez / flickr, Creative Commons)
Alexander Richter 24 Aug 2022

With funding by IDB, work on the Domuyo 5 MW geothermal pilot project in the province of Neuqúen in Argentina is to kick of with preparations this year.

After news of last week, that there might indeed be some geothermal development in the province of Neuquén advances with a 5 MW pilot for the Domuyo geothermal pilot project, further details have now been shared by local publication Rio Negro.

The first stage will be financed by the Inter-American Development Bank. It consists of the layout of the drilling of the well and the social and environmental studies with hope that results from the drilling can be obtained in about 12 months.

In the remaining months of the year, work will begin with the layout of the drilling of the well and with the social and environmental studies financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The plant will require an investment of USD 35 million, according to the head of ADI NQN, José Brillo , in dialogue with Energía On.

In March of this year, “the governor of the province, Omar Gutiérrez, presented a financing proposal to the IDB for what would basically be the first actions to develop the Domuyo project, ” assured Brillo. An investment was requested to carry out the social and environmental studies and the layout of the first well .

The project is located about 35 kilometers north of the town of Varvarco , near the Domuyo volcano, in the department of Minas. The first studies were carried out there in the 1980s, by the Japan Cooperation Agency (Jaica). Years later, a second analysis was carried out by an Italian agency “which determined its pre-feasibility for the IDB ,” said Brillo.

The layout and subsequent drilling of the well that will begin this year will be ” in the northern zone near Aguas Calientes to later place a small 5MW pilot plant for the purpose of determining the production of energy from endogenous vapors.” In this way they seek to define the feasibility of the project .

” It will continue to grow , but we are very interested in the completion of this first stage with a power plant in the north,” the referent remarked. In turn, he anticipated that “social and environmental studies would take a year . In half a year, which would be about the second part of this year, the well drilling diagram would be made».

“We hope to have results by the middle of next year , by August or September,” said Brillo. However, he recalled that the works can only be carried out in summer due to the climatic closure, so there may be variations in the date.

The total project, including the pilot plant, ” would require about 35 million dollars for its financing . ” Then obviously you have to make the power line to connect to the system. First it is in low capacity, which would be about 33 kW» marked the headline.

At the same time, they plan to ” make a 132 kW line between Chos Malal and the Domuyo base, which has a much larger investment: 40 million that we have already requested from the National Energy Secretariat” to transfer the energy it produces to the system. , he indicated. In addition to the production of the geothermal plant, that of the El Alamito solar park will be included in this line .

Domuyo’s potential capacity is 100 MW: ” It is one of the fields with the largest capacity in Argentina and South America , only comparable to Bolivia, where they have a geothermal park in the south of the country.” Indeed, the town of Potosí,  south of Laguna Colorada, has a project with similar characteristics to the one they propose to develop in Domuyo.

The IDB visit to Domuyo

In July, the provincial authorities received the consultant from the IDB’s Energy Division , Gastón Sirot, and the Leading Energy specialist from that multilateral institution , Christian Gischler. They visited the north of Neuquén and also met with representatives of the Undersecretary of the Environment and “with Protected Natural Areas, which fundamentally in this first stage is very important ,” Brillo remarked.

« The people of the IDB are very internalized in what geothermal energy is and not only its use as energy, but also for other uses such as heating, heated pools, greenhouses, hydroponics, and use in homes », he explained.

As the referent underlined, from the IDB they seek “that it really has a good acceptance of those who are going to work there. Many women are working in geothermal in the world .”

The fact that the IDB has approved the financing of these works means that the province will not have to pay for this first stage.” It is still a pilot geothermal development because the financing begins with a one-year stage where social studies and corresponding environmental The IDB is very rigorous from that point of view ”, assured Brillo.

Source: Rio Negro