Approximately 90 kilometers northwest of the Nicaraguan capital of Managua, near the city of Leon, geothermal drilling has started again for the San Jacinto-Tizate Project, under a new contract.
If you’re like me, you had no idea what the San Jacinto Project is, or even what geothermal drilling is – but now you’re curious!
Luckily, due to my curiosity, I have done the research and can share the information with you.
What is geothermal drilling?
First, let’s cover what geothermal drilling even is.
Geothermal drilling is the method of extracting geothermal energy from the earth. The heat from the earth can be used to power complex energy stations of any size. The great thing about geothermal energy is that it can be found almost anywhere.
Below the earth’s crust lies a layer of hot molten rock known as magma. This layer is constantly producing heat. That heat can be used to produce power.
The best way to capture this energy is by tapping into naturally occurring hydrothermal convection, where cool water seeps into the earth’s crust, heats up, and rises to the surface.
Geothermal power plants drill their own holes to capture the steam more effectively.
Many regions of the world are using geothermal energy as a sustainable alternative.
Geothermal energy is one of the few renewable energy sources that can supply a continuous baseload power. Another perk of this energy source is that it can be flexible, balancing out the supply of other renewable sources, such as wind and solar.
What is the San Jacinto Project?
The San Jacinto-Tizate power plant, located near Leon, is one of the highest quality geothermal reserves in the world.
The power plant covers a 40-square-kilometer area located near several young and active volcanic mountains. The rocks exposed at the surface in the area of the power plant consist of deposits from those volcanoes.
I’m not a scientist, but I think I can safely assume that the proximity to volcanoes makes an ideal condition for collecting geothermal energy.
The first geoscientific studies of the area were conducted in 1953, where heat flow from the surface was measured. Steam was observed to be flowing from shallow wells in the area.
After a 1969-71 exploration conducted by the United States Agency for International Development, the San Jacinto-Tizate area was identified as having a high priority for development.
The project is run by Polaris Energy Nicaragua (PENSA), a subsidiary of Ram Power Corporation, formed after a merger between Polaris Geothermal of Canada, Ram Power, and Western GeoPower.
PENSA is one of the largest producers of renewable energy in Nicaragua, and it continues to change energy use in the country.
According to the PENSA website, the San Jacinto-Tizate Geothermal Plant was conceived to generate positive socioeconomic impact through employment opportunities, energy production, and positive environmental impact.
The power plant currently has the potential to produce more than 200 MW of power. The original plant, commissioned in 2005, was producing 10 MW of power and later expanded with a 72 MW net capacity in 2012.
Three new wells were drilled and a workover was conducted for four existing wells in 2016.
The energy produced by the turbines is supplied to Disnorte and Dissur under a long-term agreement ending in 2029.
It was recently announced that a new drilling agreement at the power plant has been made public, which is how I came across this topic in the first place.
In a new contract that was announced this month, Polaris Energy Nicaragua and geothermal drilling specialist, Iceland Drilling Company, will drill additional wells at the power plant in Nicaragua.
The new project started last month and the first well was completed successfully.
Iceland Drilling Company (IDC) is a leader in its field with decades of experience in both high and low temperature drilling. The company has a record of several hundred high temperature geothermal wells.
Operating internationally, the company has operated in Portugal, the UK, Denmark, Ireland, Hungary, Germany, Nicaragua, the Philippines, the Caribbean, Switzerland, and New Zealand.
Current projects are located in Iceland, the Caribbean, and Nicaragua.
The project began last month and has been running successfully. The CEO of IDC, Sigurdur Sigurdsson, says he hopes to continue geothermal drilling in Nicaragua.