El Salvador has established itself as one of the main geothermal producers in the region, thanks to the hard work carried out by the government of President Nayib Bukele in the development of geothermal fields.
According to Daniel Álvarez, president of the Lempa River Hydroelectric Executive Commission (CEL), geothermal energy currently accounts for 25% of the national electricity market and benefits more than 2 million families when combined with hydroelectric plants.salvadoran
However, the Bukele administration is committed to increasing said generation and further benefiting Salvadorans with cheaper energy prices.
In this sense, in August 2022, CEL launched two competition processes simultaneously, one for the construction of the Chinameca Geothermal Plant, in San Miguel, which will have a capacity of 20 megawatts (MW), and another for the execution of the San Vicente Geothermal Plant, which will have a capacity of 10 MW.
Álvarez indicated that with the commissioning of the new plants, the country would have four. “The geothermal energy matrix has not been modified since 1992. These two plants come to give us more geothermal energy, and we will obtain about 5% more,” he said.
The winner of the projects
In addition, the official explained that for the construction of these fields, a tender was carried out in which more than 10 international companies with experience in geothermal energy participated, but it was InterEnergy, a British-Panamanian consortium, that won, and therefore, he will be in charge of the final projects.
All companies underwent a transparent competition that consisted of four phases.
CEL added that the offer presented by InterEnergy was the most accessible for the government. Therefore, for the San Vicente Geothermal Plant, the company will offer energy at $79.90 MW and will have a nominal capacity of 10 MW. He also informed that the construction process will take 730 days.
Meanwhile, for Chinameca, the MW will be sold at $79.90, with a nominal capacity of 20 MW. The days for the construction of the plant will be 730.
The autonomous body clarified that the company will have the benefit of the investment and the responsibility of the construction, in addition to the operation of both geothermal plants; however, it is conditional that after 20 years, the plants become the property of the state investments controlled by CEL.
Alejandro Alle, a representative of InterEnergy, was pleased to win this international process for the construction of both geothermal plants and stated that “the process was very transparent and orderly.”
The company executive also reported that they have partnered with an Israeli company that will be in charge of manufacturing the turbines for generation based on geothermal fluids.
“El Salvador is blessed to have a large component of its geothermal-based matrix. […] LAGEO will always be the owner of the geothermal resource, and at no time does the private take ownership”, he stated.
On the other hand, CEL reiterated that there is stability in the energy tariff for this year, even though the tariff schedule is lower than in 2022. “At this moment we are stable, we are very good with respect to the energy price, and this means that the actions are bearing fruit”, he commented.