Future of Geothermal Project being assessed – PM Gonsalves
The geothermal project at Bamboo Range is awaiting equipment that will test how much power exists in that area, so that a decision can be made about if it makes sense to continue with the project.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said last week that the output that had been predicted is not possible at this point, as the permeability of the rocks at the site is not as good as had been hoped.
To produce geothermal energy, two things are needed — heat and permeability, which is the flow of water through porous rocks.
Speaking on NBC radio on May 27, the Prime Minister said drilling at the site has concluded and while there is undoubtedly a geothermal source, “what we have is that the question of the permeability of the rocks is a real problem.”
He said the heat present at the site is over 250 degrees Celsius, which is good, but the heat cannot pass through the rocks at the needed rate.
“There has to be testing to see how many megawatts you going to get,” Gonsalves said while adding, “clearly the lack of permeability, you not going to get the predicted geothermal output so the question would be…whether it make sense to go through with the project.”
The Prime Minister also noted that there is another form of technology that can be pursued while also awaiting the testing equipment to see the extent of what the site can yield.
He said there is technology for geothermal wells that are producing at low heat, that is, under 200 degrees Celsius and technology for wells producing over 250 degrees Celsius. Testing can tell what kind of plant can be built.
“…But clearly it is not going to be what we envisaged,” Gonsalves admitted.
He also noted that up to this stage, this country has only spent a little over $600,000 of our own money on project management as the money for the project came from grants.