Last year, we reported on Ormat having acquired the majority ownership stake in 15 MW Bouillante geothermal power plant in Guadeloupe, a French territory in the Caribbean.
A local article now describes a little bit of the background, questioning why the French state sold the plant to a private company, instead of investing into geothermal energy.
The Bouillante geothermal plant is the only geothermal power plant currently operating in the territory of France. The geothermal power plant in Soultz-sous-Forets in France itself works as a research site and we are not sure it is currently operational. Other geothermal plants in France provide heating and now power. Having been operating since 1986, the Bouillante plant is still managed and owned by the French Bureau of Geological and Mining Research (BRGM), with Électricité de France S.A. (EDF) as a minority shareholder. EDF is a French electric utility company, largely owned by the French state.
For several years, an investor was sought to help expand the plant. Around the time of the Climate Conference in Paris in December 2015, the agreement was reached with Ormat, which then signed a tentative agreement for Ormat’s acquisition of a 85% stake in the company.
“Ségolène Royal, Minister Ecology, and Emmanuel Macron, Minister of Economics, have both expressed support for the Ormat decision to invest in the improvement and development of the Bouillante geothermal power plant ” , welcomed the company based headquartered in Nevada.”
The plant currently provides about 6% of the electricity in Guadeloupe. Similar geothermal conditions and opportunities for power generation can be found in the other French territories of Martinique, also in the Caribbean, and Réunion off the coast of Africa.
There have been questions, why the state did not invest more and instead looked at a private player like Ormat. The reasons seems to be the lack of interest by EDF, which had decided to reduce its stake in the plant to a symbolic level. It also had abandoned a geothermal project in Dominica, which would have provided electricity to Guadeloupe and Martinique. Engie (formerly GDF Suez) also did not show any interest, while developing projects in Indonesia and Mexico.
“Currently, the [Bouillante] plant has a production capacity of 15 MW. But by performing additional drilling, there is the prospect of increasing capacity, based on previous research by BRGM “ said Alain Gadalia, CGT BRGM engineer on geothermal. Research conducted by the public institution will therefore now be enjoyed by Ormat, which plans to reach a capacity of 45 MW by 2021. “The oldest unit of Boiling has been renovated there two years. There remains only the investments of drilling to do to increase production. “
The energy transition law adopted in France in August 2015 announced the development of a “national geothermal development sector strategy in the Overseas departments [of France]” . But for now this seems to have been implemented by selling the one of the only two geothermal plants of France.
Source: Basta Mag