The issue of projects claimed by separate developers
Projects claimed by separate development companies are not helping the industry, as now happened with the Fiale Geothermal Project in Djibouti in Eastern Africa, which has been developed by Icelandic REI and is now referenced by an Australian firm as well.
A recent story shows how easy it is to confuse the general public about geothermal energy development. Conflicting stories on security, risk and last but not least who claims a project are not helping.
Just as an example there are now three groups claiming to “develop” a geothermal project in Puga Valley, close to Ladakh in the Kashmir region of India. All include an Indian company and a foreign player. In this case it is Australian Panax Geothermal with Indian company Geosyndicate Power (see Panax), Icelandic Mannvit with Indian LNJ Bhilwara (see article) and Thermax with Icelandic Reykjavik Geothermal.
Another example is a news piece this weekend from Iceland, referencing the Fiale geothermal project in Djibouti in East Africa.
An Australian company, Earth Heat Resources Ltd claims to have signed a JV with Djibouti government officials for the development of the Fiale Geothermal Development Project (see Earth Heat announcement of October 22, 2010 (pdf)), the same project that Icelandic Reykjavik Energy Invest (the investment arm of Icelandic utility Reykjavik Energy or Orkuveita Reykjavikur) has been working on since about 2007. (see REI description of the project (pdf)).
In a statement by REI following Icelandic news picking up the story, the company points out that there are still ongoing contract discussions on the behalf of the company in Djibouti and that the Australian firm has not stolen the project.
For people outside the industry these kind of news don´t help to raise the level of confidence in geothermal energy and companies quoting the same projects are confusing everybody.
For engineering firms referencing projects this is a slightly different story as you can have several firms doing different things as part of a geothermal development project and therefore several companies can quote having worked on a project.
The industry clearly needs to speak more unified and avoid these kind of news. It should be in the interest of all to raise trust in the industry.
Source: Pressan on the Djibouti “project” by Australian firm Earth Heat Resources, and Pressan on the response by REI (all in Icelandic)