Article regarding GT potential in Latin America:
ENEL eyes volcanic Latin America for Geothermal growth
Fri Apr 18, 2008
By Ian Simpson
MILAN, April 18 (Reuters) - Italian power company Enel SpA (ENEI.MI) is targeting Latin America and other foreign markets as it looks to boost output from geothermal energy by a quarter and save on carbon dioxide emissions, executives said on Friday.
ENEL, Europe's biggest producer of geothermal power, is also exploring new technology that can make its power plants run at lower temperatures from geothermal underground sources, they said.
Latin America, rich with volcanoes and hot springs, is a natural spot to invest as Enel expands from Italy, Roberto Deambrogio, Enel's head of international renewable energy development, said in a telephone interview with Reuters. "Latin America is a key area for us, because of course you have to go where the resources are," said Deambrogio, who was joined on the call by Ruggero Bertani, head of geothermal development.
Geothermal is earmarked for a third of Enel's planned 1.1 billion euros in spending on renewable resources in Latin American through 2012. Enel, which produces about 10 percent of world geothermal energy, is investing in projects in Nicaragua and in El Salvador, with a 200 megawatt plant. It is exploring sites in Guatemala.
It is also involved in four projects in Chile, including drilling at an altitude of more than 4,000 metres (13,200 feet) in the Andes Mountains, Deambrogio said.
"Of course, the higher the altitude it is, the harder it is to drill," Deambrogio said.
ENEL also is in the early stages of using new lower-temperature binary cycle technology in Greece and Slovakia, he said. The push abroad is part of Enel's goal of boosting its geothermal capacity to 837 megawatts in 2012 from 678 megawatts last year.
The state-controlled company entered the U.S. geothermal market last year and bought AMP Resources LLC with 150 megawatts of planned capacity.
Although geothermal makes up less than 3 percent of Enel's capacity, it plays a role in cutting the company's emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide. Besides powering a quarter of the Tuscany region, Enel's 30 geothermal plants in Italy hold down its carbon dioxide output by 3.5 million tonnes a year. That capacity "is very important for Enel as a company to reduce the emission of C02", Deambrogio said.
Enel is working with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Milan's Polytechnic University to develop new binary cycle technologies. They use underground heat to warm liquid in a closed cycle and drive a turbine.
ENEL wants to come up with a liquid to replace such mixtures as the ammonium and water now in use. The new liquids, known as super criticals, could be heated to drive turbines at lower temperatures, thus opening new geothermal fields for use.
"Basically, changing those liquids you can increase the efficiency significantly. That's one of the things we are doing," Deambrogio said.
Bertani, the head of geothermal development, said Enel had spent 30 million euros to install equipment that captures mercury and hydrogen sulphate -- the gas that gives hot springs their rotten-egg smell -- emitted at geothermal plants and reinject them deep into the earth.
"There is nothing left on the surface, nothing in the earth, nor in the water," he said.
(Editing by Erica Billingham)