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Nicaragua: mixed megawatts

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Increased production of electricity from geothermal sources and coal are two options for Nicaragua, as early results from oil exploration last week came back negative.

Each option has the advantage of being a constant energy source, as opposed to wind or solar generation, which depends on weather.

In addition, both are cheap sources of power, especially geothermal, which uses steam power, produced by underground volcanic activity, to drive the turbines of a power plant.

Meanwhile, coal costs less than bunker or diesel fuel, currently Nicaragua’s main sources of electrical power.

More exploration is needed, before it is possible to conclude that Nicaragua has no viable petroleum or natural gas deposits.

On the other hand, the prospects are not promising, based on the results of a test well drilled by Noble Energy some 180 kilometers off the Caribbean coast.

As much as 2,000 megawatts of electricity could come from geothermal sources, including a project to develop close to 200 MW in the San Jacinto region, by means of a concession awarded to United States-based Ram Power Corporation.

An earlier phase of the project currently generates some 70 MW.

Power generation from locally produced oil would do little to reduce Nicaragua’s output of greenhouse gases.

On the other hand, Nicaragua would save money, compared to importing fossil fuels.

Likewise, converting existing power plants to coal-combustion could cut costs by as much as 40%, compared to using diesel or bunker.