Nicaragua pushes forward on permitting process for Mombacho geothermal project

Nicaragua pushes forward on permitting process for Mombacho geothermal project Mombacho volcano, Nicaragua (source: flickr/ Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 29 Jan 2021

Nicaragua's state energy company ENEL is pushing ahead with the Mombacho geothermal project with a recently held meeting to communicate findings of an environmental impact study and is preparing drilling for the Cosigüina geothermal project.

Last week, Nicaragua’s state electricity company Nicaraguan Electricity Company (ENEL, Nicaragua’s Empresa Nicaragüense de Electricidad) presented the Environmental Impact Study (EIA) for the drilling of three deep exploratory geothermal wells of the Mombacho Volcano Geothermal Project to municipal representatives, evangelical leaders, and the community usually; the presentation of the EIA was made by the Sánchez Argüello y Companía Limitada.

The exhibition that was held at the Salomón de la Selva School in the Agua Agria Community, in the Municipality of Nandaime, Department of Granada, had the participation of the Executive President of ENEL, Eng. Ernesto Martínez Tiffer, who in his Opening remarks highlighted that this type of project is of vital importance for the development of the Nicaraguan nation “[…] with the help of the brotherly people of Japan and its Government, we are going to develop a project in the Mombacho Volcano in the short term get steam and get energy ”.

Eng. Martínez recalled that for many years they have been working on the exploration of the area, and it has been concluded that there are high possibilities of finding steam “once we drill deep wells at more than 1,500 meters depth, we’re going to be working around here and obviously it’s going to see work for the community ”.

He assured that once the resource (steam) is found, an electric power generating plant will be installed “which is a natural resource that does not require oil imports to generate; With the steam that we are going to obtain from the subsoil, it is sent to a turbine, that turbine begins to turn and is connected to a generator and that generator provides energy ”, detailed Engineer Martínez Tiffer.

Environmental impact

The CEO of the consulting firm, MSc. Sandra María Sánchez, pointed out that a lot of environmental and scientific information was obtained for this project; In addition, there is an update of the environmental baseline of the Mombacho Nature Reserve, the Laguna de Mecatepe Nature Reserve and the Manares River.

She commented that one of the most important works was to determine the existing biological corridors in the area and the environmental connectivity plans that may occur “what is sought is to take advantage of this circumstance, because we already see the problems of deforestation, progress of the agricultural frontier, forest fires. So we think that the project area would contribute to improving or restoring some areas and strengthening environmental connectivity systems ”. During the presentation, something that was clear is that there will be “no water damage.”

The Project is located hydrographically in the Río San Juan de Nicaragua basin, based on this premise, two rivers in the area have an impact on the project: El Pital and Río Manares, but the largest area of ??the Project is in the Manares River sub-basin.

Sánchez explained that during the data collection, tests were carried out on surface water and underground water, pumping in existing wells, especially in the Agua Agria Community, to determine the potential and according to specialists the core area of ??the Natural Reserve , the capacity and flow of the River is very wide, so in the drilling process there will be no problems with the vital liquid.

It is worth mentioning that the scope of the project includes the construction of approximately 5 km of road, a resettlement plan in accordance with international regulations, a communication plan to have direct contact with the population; as well as an Action Plan to Strengthen Ecotourism in the area of ??incidence.

The bet is for Geothermal

The Executive President of ENEL, explained to the population that for each well drilled 5 MW can be obtained “but normally the wells do not come out all producers, some non-producer comes out, it is used as a reinjection well, because what comes out of below, a mixture of fluid, water, steam and the only thing that is used is steam for electricity generation ”.

He stressed that the investment is millionaire when it comes to drilling “each well costs a minimum of five million dollars. You are talking about an investment of $35 million. Then comes what are the civil works and electromechanical assembly so that the plant can generate electricity ”.

The community will be the protagonist

The Executive President of ENEL pointed out that the community will benefit the most because they will have better access routes and guaranteed work “the improvement that is going to take place here will be very, very visible; there will be jobs, better access roads, better schools and a health center ”.

The Municipal Political Secretary of Nandaime, comrade Francisco Vanegas, sees the project with good eyes and in a positive way and is enthusiastic that a project is being developed near this community that will benefit the entire country “we will have better social benefits with the drilling of these wells, the hill will be reforested more, the fauna will be better cared for. We as an organized community are going to try to prevent fires in these places and we are going to conserve the environment, I am and we are sure that we are on the right track in this community […] The exposition of both the head of ENEL and the exhibitors has been clear and I am confident that the impact will be positive ”.

One of the inhabitants of the Agua Agria community is Mr. Maynor Briceno, who stressed that this is a very organized community “the inhabitants of this community have a very good perspective and we are happy because they are going to see work. Small and medium producers will be able to get their crops, their grain, from the Municipality of Nandaime to the Department of Granada. Sincerely very proud, very happy with the Government. A government that is working with the whole family and thanking God above all and working more, as they say hand in hand for our government.

If feasible, the project is expected to be completed for the next 5 years. According to ENEL authorities, the most complex phase has already ended, and there are high chances of finding steam, so the development and start-up of the project will be of great benefit to the National Interconnected System (SIN), to the country and in particular for the inhabitants of Agua Agria.

In separate news, as reported by BN Americas, a contract for civil works ahead of exploratory drilling at the Cosigüina geothermal project was also recently awarded locally.

Nicaragua’s geothermal power plants are today, the 77.5 MW Momotombo geothermal power plant and the 77 MW San Jacinto-Tizate geothermal power plant by Polaris Energy Nicaragua.

Source: ENEL