Geothermal San Jacinto-Tizate project is implemented by the company Polaris Energy Nicaragua SA (Pensa), a subsidiary of the Canadian company Polaris Infrastructure Inc. (PIF), and has an installed capacity of 77 megawatts.
With 18 volcanoes and seven active, Nicaragua plans to replace in 25 years, the thermal energy generated from oil derivatives, by geothermal, which is one that is produced from the internal heat of the earth and concentrated in the subsoil in places known as “geothermal reservoirs”.
With an estimated potential to generate at least 1,519 megawatts of energy from the heat of the earth, almost three times the current total consumption of Nicaragua, the country only takes advantage of 10% of its geothermal potential, wich is 152 megawatts.
“We believe that the whole basis of Nicaragua energy, the immense potential that exists, must be geothermal and it is there where we are going,” said the CEO of the Nicaraguan state Electricity Company (Enel), Ernesto Martinez Tiffer.
Currently there are 10 capable fields of producing energy with the heat of volcanoes, two of which are being exploited, three are under exploration concession and the other five are still “virgin”, although there are interested companies, authorities said.
In 1983 Nicaragua became just the ninth country in the world and fourth in America, after the United States, Mexico and El Salvador, to generate geothermal energy, in the Momotombo field.
“At that time we started with 35 megawatts,” Martinez Tiffer recalled, who noted, however, that this amount represented about 33% of total generation in the national grid that time.
Currently the Momotombo geothermal field, located in the southeast of the Cordillera de los Maribios, 55 kilometers northwest of Managua, on the shores of Lake Managua, has an installed capacity of 70 megawatts.
The other operation field is located in the rural community of San Jacinto Tizate, a warm place located at the gates of Telica volcano, one of the more active, in the country’s northwest.
San Jacinto-Tizate Geothermal project is implemented by the company Polaris Energy Nicaragua SA (Pensa), a subsidiary of the Canadian company Polaris Infrastructure Inc. (PIF), and has an installed capacity of 77 megawatts.
The government granted an extension of the concession to the Cerro Colorado Power company, from Pensa, the same who exploits San Jacinto Tizate, for exploration and exploitation of energy in the Casita volcanic complex, in the same volcanic chain.
In this complex, which welcomes Chonco, San Cristobal and Casita volcano, with support from the World Bank authorities they have detected, based on the initial geoscientific studies, that there is a reservoir with exploitable potential for commercial purposes.
The authorities expect that within seven years will come another 35 megawatts of energy from the Casita volcanic complex.
Concession to private
Geothermal fields El Hoyo-Monte Galan and Managua-Chiltepe also has been concessioned to private companies to undertake exploration geoscience research.
El Hoyo-Monte Galan, whose concession was granted to Geonica, has been studied geological exploration, volcanology, hydrological, geochemical, geophysical and has even been studied by thermal gradient shallow wells.
The data obtained so far show that there is a “very interesting” geothermal resource, however, yet to quantify, according to a Clean Energy XXI report, a site dedicated to the promotion of renewable energy.
In Managua-Chiltepe, whose concession is the joint venture Alba de Nicaragua SA (Albanisa), geothermal investigations to date have been essentially geoscientific type.
Cosigüina and triangle, virgin areas
Forecast. The other capable fields of producing energy with the heat of volcanoes and that are still “virgin” are Cosigüina, Telica-El Ñajo, Tipitapa, Masaya-Granada-Nandaime and Ometepe Island, in the Great Lake.
With the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Nicaragua has conducted feasibility studies in the Cosigüina volcano, northwest corner of the country.
In the Telica-El Ñajo, which includes most of Telica volcanic complex, there are signs of thermal demonstration to infer the presence of a potentially exploitable hydrothermal system, officials said.
The Tipitapa is in the prefeasibility stage. While the range between the cities of Masaya-Granada-Nandaime, forming a triangle in southeastern Nicaragua and includes three major volcanic centers, it has shows signs of geothermal activity.
Officials hope that next year, with support from France, they will make an exploration in the area of the “Caldera de Masaya,” which goes from the Santiago volcano to the municipality of Tipitapa, southeast of the country.
The other two areas are “Caldera de Apoyo” and the Mombacho volcano, which will be supported by Japan for their studies.
Since 1979, according to Martinez Tiffer, it was found that in the Masaya-Granada-Nandaime field can generate 1,000 megawatts at least and 2,000 megawatts maximum.
On the island of Ometepe in the Great Lake and home to volcanoes Concepcion and Maderas, it will also be part of a geothermal development “in the near future”, according to Enel.
“Throughout our volcanic chain there is the largest geothermal potential of Nicaragua,” said Martinez Tiffer, adding that in the country “we have more than 400 megawatts of thermal energy to be replaced by geothermal energy.”
Geothermal energy is the second source of greater availability for clean energy generation in Nicaragua, second only to hydropower (more than 2,000 megawatts).