The First Geothermal Plants Around The World

The Matsukawa Geothermal Power Plant – The first geothermal power plant in Japan. Photo courtesy of Dr. Roland N. Horne

The utilization of geothermal resources to produce electricity has been increasing since the invention of the first geothermal energy generator by Piero Ginori Conti in Italy in 1904.

By 2020, there are more than one hundred geothermal power plants located around the world producing electricity with a total installed capacity of 15608 MW.

Want to know when and where the first geothermal power plants were set up around the world?

Here are the first geothermal power plants built in significant geothermal energy-producing countries.

THE LARDERELLO PLANT – ITALY – 1913

The first and the oldest geothermal power plant in the world is in Larderello in Italy.

Following the invention of the first geothermal energy generator by Piero Ginori Conti in 1904, the Larderello 1 geothermal power plant was completed in 1913 with a capacity of 250 kW.

The Larderello area now has 34 geothermal power plants having a total capacity of 800 MW.

By the way, the Larderello steam field is so awesome that it is referred to as Valle del Diavolo – Devil’s Valley.

Today, Italy has a total installed capacity of 944 MW making it the seventh-largest geothermal energy producer in the world.

WAIRAKEI PLANT – NEW ZEALAND – 1958

New Zealand is the second country in the world that built a geothermal power plant.

The first geothermal plant in New Zealand, the Wairakei Unit 1 station was completed in 1958 with a capacity of 11.2 MW. The Wairakei geothermal plant is located at North Taupo.

Currently, New Zealand has 15 geothermal power stations having a combined capacity of 1005 MW making it the fifth-largest geothermal producer in the world.

THE GEYSERS UNIT 1 PLANT – The US – 1960

The first geothermal power plant in the US is located at the Geysers. The Unit 1 plant was completed in 1960 with a capacity of 11 MW.

The Geysers geothermal field in California is the most prolific geothermal producing field in the US also in the world. It now has 18 geothermal power plants and a total installed capacity of 1590 MW.

Today the US with more than 69 geothermal power plants located in various states has a total installed capacity of 3714 MW. This makes the US the biggest geothermal energy producer in the world.

MATSUKAWA PLANT – JAPAN – 1966

The first geothermal power generation plant in Japan is the Matsukawa Geothermal Power Plant (Matsukawa Jinetsu Hatsudensho).

The plant started operating in 1966 with an initial capacity of 9.5 MW. It now has an installed capacity of 23.5 MW.

Today, Japan has more than 20 geothermal power plants operating in 18 locations producing 603 MW of electricity making it the tenth-largest geothermal energy producer in the world.

BJARNARFLAG PLANT – ICELAND – 1966

Bjarnarflag geothermal station is the oldest geothermal power plant in Iceland. Bjarnarflag was completed in 1966 having a capacity of 3 MW.

Following the success of the Bjarnarflag plant, several other power plants were built in Iceland.

Iceland, the land of ice and fire, is a natural place to tap its geothermal resources for energy. The country today produces 755 MW of electricity from its geothermal resources making it the ninth-largest geothermal producer in the world.

As 99.96% of its energy needs coming from renewable resources, it is probably the greenest country in the world.

CERRO PRIETO PLANT – MEXICO – 1973

The first geothermal power plant in Mexico, Cerro Prieto 1 was commissioned in April 1973.

The Cerro Prieto field is the world’s largest known water-dominated geothermal field. It has five power stations with a total installed capacity of 820 MW.

Today, Mexico generating 963 MW of electricity is the sixth-largest geothermal energy producer in the world.

KIZILDERE PLANT – TURKEY – 1974

The first geothermal power plant in Turkey is in Kizildere.

The Kizildere geothermal power plant began its operation in 1974 as a prototype system with a 500 KW capacity.

Ten years later, the Kızıldere Jeotermal Elektrik Santralı plant was commissioned in 1984 with an installed capacity of 17.4 MW.

In 2013, the Kizildere Geothermal Power Plant reached an installed capacity of 95 MW making it Turkey’s biggest.

Today, with a total of 1688 MW capacity, Turkey is the fourth largest geothermal energy producer in the world.

AHUACHAPAN PLANT – EL SALVADOR – 1975

The first geothermal power plant in El Salvador is located in Ahuachapan. It was built in 1975 with a capacity of 95 MW.

The second geothermal plant in El Salvador, the Berlin Power Plant, was later built with an installed capacity of 109 MW.

Currently, with a total capacity of 204 MW, geothermal energy generates 20% of the total energy need in El Salvador.

The contribution of electricity from geothermal resources is set to increase in the future and two new geothermal power plants are scheduled to come online in 2023 and 2026 in the San Vicente and Chinameca fields.

LEYTE PLANT – THE PHILLIPPINES – 1977

The first geothermal power plant in the Philippines, the Leyte Geothermal Power Plant began operation in 1977.

Located on the island of Leyte, the plant started as a pilot plant using a portable 3 MW power generation unit connected to a wellhead.

With the success of the pilot plant, Leyte island now has five geothermal power plants.

Other geothermal plants in the Philippines are in the islands of Luzon, Mindanao, and Negros.

Today the Philippines with a total installed capacity of 1918 MW is the third largest geothermal energy producer in the world. 

OLKARIA I POWER STATION – KENYA – 1981

Olkaria I Geothermal Power Station is the first geothermal power plant in Kenya and Africa. The first unit having a capacity of 15 MW was commissioned in 1981.

Several units were added to the Olkaria I facility in later years bringing its total installed capacity to 185 MW by 1985.

Today Kenya has a total installed capacity of 861 MW making it the eighth largest geothermal energy producer in the world.

KAMOJANG PLANT – INDONESIA – 1982

Operating since 1982, the 235 MW Kamojang geothermal plant is the first geothermal power plant in Indonesia. It is located in the Garut area in West Java.

The Kamojang geothermal reservoir was first discovered by the Dutch more than one hundred years ago when it successfully drilled the first steam-producing well in Indonesia.

Today Indonesia has a total installed capacity of 2133 MW making it the second-largest geothermal energy producer in the world.

MOMOTOMBO PLANT – NICARAGUA – 1983

The Momotombo plant is the first geothermal power plant in Nicaragua.

Its first power generating unit of 35 MW was completed in 1983. A second 35 MW unit was later added in 1989 bringing the total capacity to 70 MW.

Nicaragua’s second geothermal plant is the San Jacinto Tizate which was completed in 2013 with an installed capacity of 72 MW.

MIRAVALLES PLANT – COSTA RICA – 1994

The first geothermal power plant in Costa is the 55 MW Miravalles plant commissioned in 1994.

Today with a total installed capacity of 207 MW, Costa Rica is the twelfth largest geothermal producer in the world.

ORTITLAN PLANT – GUATEMALA – 1998

The first geothermal power generation unit in Guatemala was built in Amatitlán geothermal area in 1998. It started as a portable power plant of 5 MW.

A full-scale 20 MW geothermal power plant, the Ortitlan, was later built in the Amatitlan area in 2008.

Guatemala’s second geothermal plant, the Orzunil, located in the Zunil geothermal area was completed with a capacity of 24 MW in 2001.

PLATANARES PLANT – HONDURAS – 2018

The first geothermal power plant of Honduras, the 35 MW Platanares geothermal plant was inaugurated in 2018.

CASANARE PLANT – COLOMBIA – 2021

Colombia inaugurated its first geothermal power unit located in Casanare in March 2021.

The first of its kind, this innovative 100 KW power unit takes advantage of the hot water produced along with the oil from the Las Maracas field.

EPILOGUE

The world is endowed with huge geothermal resources. As the world marching toward net zero emission, we shall see the application of geothermal energy as a renewable resource to generate the electricity we need will continue to expand.

Indonesia has just inaugurated its newest geothermal plant, the 45 MW Unit II Sorik Marapi Geothermal Power Plant on 28 July 2021.

This article is written by Jamin Djuang – Chief Learning Officer of LDI Training – based on information from various sources.

Ten Largest Geothermal Plants in Indonesia

Geothermal wells at Muara Laboh

Indonesia is the second-largest geothermal energy producer in the world after the USA.

Located right on the long stretch of the ring of fire, Indonesian islands are endowed with rich geothermal resources. The total potential geothermal resources of Indonesia are estimated at 28,000 MW.

Although the geothermal potential is huge, its utilization rate is under 8%. Currently, the total installed power generating capacity from the active 16 geothermal power plants in Indonesia is 2133 MW.

Here are the top ten largest geothermal plants in Indonesia in 2020.

The Kamojang Geothermal Plant

Operating since 1982, the 235 MW Kamojang plant is the first geothermal power plant in Indonesia. Located in the Garut area in West Java, it has been operating for 38 years.

The Dutch spotted the Kamojang geothermal potential more than one hundred years ago and drilled several wells in the area. In 1926 it successfully drilled the first steam producing well in Kamojang, also the first in Indonesia.  

Later in I971, Pertamina Geothermal Energi (PGE) with cooperation from New Zealand began to develop the field followed by the construction of the Kamojang power plant, the first geothermal power plant in Indonesia.

The plant is operated by Pertamina Geothermal Energi.

The Salak Geothermal Power Plant

Producing 377 MW of power, the Salak plant is the largest geothermal power plant in Indonesia and is also one of the largest in the world.

Located at Gunung Salak in West Java, the Salak plant has been operating since 1994.

The Salak geothermal resources were initially explored and developed by Unocal. In 2005, the Salak geothermal assets were taken over by Chevron who eventually sold it to Star Energy in 2017. 

The Darajat Geothermal Plant

The 270 MW Darajat geothermal plant, located at Garut in West Java, started its commercial operation in 1994 and is one of the oldest geothermal power plants in Indonesia.

The Darajat geothermal assets were initially explored and developed by Amoseas. The assets were later taken over by Chevron who eventually sold it to a consortium led by Star Energi in 2017.

The Darajat resource has two special characteristics. First, it is one of only a few dry steam fields in the world.

Secondly, the Darajat wells are highly productive. While the worldwide average capacity of a geothermal well is 5 to 10 MW, a Darajat well can produce 40 MW of power.


The Sarulla Geothermal Plant

The Sarulla geothermal power plant, with 330 MW capacity, is the second-largest geothermal plant in Indonesia and is also one of the largest geothermal plants in the world.

The Sarulla geothermal resources, located in North Sumatera, were initially discovered by Unocal. Unocal conducted extensive exploration in the Sarulla geothermal working area from 1993 to 1998. It drilled a total of 13 deep wells and proved the existence of 330 MW of commercial geothermal reserves for 30 years.

However, due to the Asian financial crisis in 1997, the Unocal proposed power plant was not constructed until after the project was taken over by Sarulla Operation Limited (SOL).

Sarulla Operation Limited completed the power plant in 2016. The company is a consortium consisting of Medco Power Indonesia, INPEX, Ormat International, Itochu Corporation, and Kyushu Electric Power.  

The Muara Laboh Geothermal Plant

Completed in 2019, the 85 MW Muara Laboh geothermal plant is the newest plant among the ten largest geothermal power plants in Indonesia.

The Muara Laboh geothermal plant is located in West Sumatera and is operated by Supreme Energy Muara Laboh (SEML).

It took the company 12 years to complete the geothermal project at 587 million US dollars.

The operator of the project, PT Supreme Energy Muara Laboh (SEML), is a consortium consisting of PT Supreme Energy, ENGIE, and Sumitomo Corporation.

Having proven reserves of 200MW, the company is in negotiation with PLN, the national power company, to build a second power generation unit.

The Ulubelu Geothermal Plant

Operating since 2012 and located at Lampung in Sumatera, the 220 MW Ulubelu geothermal power plant is operated by Pertamina Geothermal Energi.

The combined 220 MW power comes from the four 55 MW power generation units.

The Lahendong Geothermal Plant

The 120 MW Lahendong geothermal plant is located in Tomohon in North Sulawesi. The Lahendong plant started to operate commercially in 2001 and Pertamina Geothermal Energi (PGE) is the operator.

Its combined 120 MW power is generated from the five 20 MW power generation units.

The Wayang Windu Geothermal Plant

Located in the Bandung area in West Java, the 227 MW Wayang Windu geothermal plant began its commercial operation in 1999.

Star Energy operates the Wayang Windu geothermal assets under a joint cooperation contract with Pertamina Geothermal Energi.

The Dieng Geothermal Plant

The 60 MW Dieng geothermal power plant started to operate in 1998. The Dieng plant is located in the Dieng area in Central Java and is operated by Geo Dipa Energi.

Geo Dipa Energi is currently working on the following projects in the Dieng work area:

  1. Adding a small 10 MW power plant.
  2. Developing a 55 MW Dieng-2 power plant (PLTP Dieng Unit 2)
  3. Developing a 55 MW Dieng-3 power plant (PLTP Dieng Unit 3)

The Patuha Geothermal Plant

The 55 MW Patuha geothermal plant located at the Ciwidey area in West Java has been in operation since 2014.

Geo Dipa Energi as the operator is committed to drill 12 new wells beginning in 2021 and construct a second 55 MW power plant. Its long-term plan is to increase the Patuha power generation capacity to 400 MW.

Other Geothermal Plants in Indonesia

Sixteen geothermal power plants are operating in Indonesia currently. Besides the above top ten largest plants, here are two other geothermal plants that are worth mentioning.

The Lumut Balai Geothermal Plant

The 55 MW Lumut Balai geothermal plant, located at Muara Enim in South Sumatera, started to operate commercially in 2019.

Pertamina Geothermal Energi operates the Lumut Balai assets and the company is planning to build a second power generation unit.

The Sorik Marapi Geothermal Plant

The Sorik Marapi geothermal power plant located in Mandailing Natal in North Sumatera has a total installed capacity of 90 MW.

Its first 45 MW unit came online in 2019 and the second 45 MW unit was inaugurated on 28 July 2021.

The Sorik Marapi geothermal plant was developed by ORKA Energy and operated by PT Sorik Marapi Geothermal Power.

The Rantau Dedap Geothermal Plant

The Rantau Dedap geothermal power plant, located in South Sumatera, is the latest geothermal power plant that came online in Indonesia. Currently, it consists of two power stations, Unit 1 and Unit 2 having a total installed capacity of 98.5 MW.

The power plant is operated by PT Supreme Energy Rantau Dedap (SERD), a consortium consisting of Supreme Energy, Marubeni, ENGIE, and Tohoku Electric Company.

Here are the timelines of the geothermal project:

2010 – The concession for the Rantau Dedap was awarded to Supreme Energy.

2011 – Geoscientific exploration began.

2014 – Exploration drilling began.

2015 – A total of 6 exploration wells were completed by 2015.

2016 – The company confirmed the 92 MW of proven reserve capacity.

2018 – Power plant construction began.

2021 – Completed the Unit 1 power station.  

The 49.25 MW Unit 1 station was successfully synchronized to PLN’s power grid on 5 October 2021. PLN – Perusahaan Listrik Negara – is the national electricity company of Indonesia.

The Unit 2 station is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

PT Supreme Energy Rantau Dedap plans to further develop the geothermal potential in the Rantau Dedap geothermal work area with a total development target of 240 MW.

Geothermal is Rising in Indonesia

The list of the top largest power plants in Indonesia will likely change in 2021 as several new power plants will be completed in near future.

The Indonesian government is very keen to develop its vast geothermal resources to increase the contribution of renewable energy in its energy mix. Its targets are to increase the geothermal power generation capacity to 7500 MW by 2025 and 9300 MW by 2035.

To meet these targets, the government will provide funds to help companies in their exploration drillings, provide tax holidays, and remove certain taxes.

With a total of 265 potential sites for geothermal plants located across the country, the utilization of the geothermal resources should continue to increase long into the future in Indonesia.

Written by Jamin Djuang – Chief Learning Officer of LDI Training and author of The Story of Oil and Gas: How Oil and Gas Are Explored, Drilled, and Produced

The Amazing Rise of Medco Energi

The Belanak FPSO

This year, Medco Energi is celebrating its forty years of continuing successes and presence as one of the leading energy companies in Indonesia and South East Asia.

Medco Energi International became a public company in 1994, and today it operates in eight countries.

It has interests in oil and gas exploration and production, geothermal power generation, gas distribution and trading, and mining.

The Beginning of Medco

Medco Energi has come a long way in a short time since it started as an oil drilling service company in 1980, Meta Epsi Pribumi Drilling Company (MEDCO).

Founded by Mr. Arifin Panigoro, Medco Energi is a trailblazer ever since its beginning.

The Acquisition of Stanvac Indonesia

The first breaks that made Medco became big and successful were the acquisition of Stanvac’s oil and gas assets in South Sumatera in 1995, and the following discovery of the big oil fields in Kaji and Semoga in the Rimau Block, in South Sumatera.

Stanvac Indonesia, set up by Standard Oil of New Jersey in 1912, was one of the oldest and biggest oil companies in Indonesia during the Dutch colonial era.  

The Acquisition of ConocoPhillip’s Interest in West Natuna Sea Block B PSC

The Acquisition of ConocoPhillip’s Interest in West Natuna Sea Block B

Medco Energi further expanded in 2016 when it purchased ConocoPhillips’s 40% interest in the West Natuna Sea Block B and took over the operatorship of the block.

This acquisition added substantial gas and liquids reserves and increased Medco Energi’s daily production by over 35%.

The block is in approximately 300 feet of water and had 11 offshore platforms, four producing subsea fields, and one FPSO – the Belanak FPSO – in addition to two dedicated floating storage and offloading vessels.

The Belanak FPSO was described as one of the most complex FPSO in the world. It was the first offshore liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) facility on a floating vessel in the Asia Pacific region when it was commissioned in 2004.

The fields include the Belanak field, South Belut field, Hiu field, Kerisi field, North Belut field and Bawal field.

The produced natural gas is sold to Singapore and Malaysia through a 654 KM long 28 inch gas pipeline.

Medco Energi also assumed the operatorship of the Onshore Receiving Facility in Singapore following the acquisition.

Acquisition of Ophir Energy

Medco Energi Internasional continued to expand by acquiring Ophir Energy, a London-based independent in 2019.

The acquisition of Ophir Energy increased Medco Energi’s daily oil and gas production by 29% to 110,000 BOE per day.

By taking over the operatorship of Ophir Energy’s offshore Bualuang field in Thailand, Medco Energi became a leading regional oil and gas player in South East Asia.

Epilogue

Besides acquiring producing assets, Medco Energi is also active in exploring for new oil and gas reserves.

Its 2020 exploration drilling campaign in the South Natuna Sea Block B is 100% successful. It tested hydrocarbon in all the four exploration wells it drilled. The wells are Bronang-2, Kaci-2, Terubuk-5, and West Belut-1.

Medco Energi is planning to develop these fields.

As Medco Energi celebrates its 40 years of progress, with its solid management team, it certainly will continue to march toward an even brighter future.

Here is the top management team of Medco Energi.

Muhammad Lutfi – President Commissioner

Hilmi Panigoro – President Director

Roberto Lorato – Chief Executive Officer

Anthony R Mathias – Chief Financial Officer

Ronald Gunawan – Chief Operating Officer

Amri Siahaan – Chief Human Capital and Business Support Officer

Myrta Sri Utami – VP Corporate Planning & IR

Siendy K Wisandana – Head of Legal Counsel and Secretary

Written by Jamin Djuang – Chief Learning Officer of LDI Training and author of the published book The Story of Oil and Gas: How Oil and Gas are Explored, Drilled and Produced.

The Sarulla Geothermal Power Plant in Indonesia

shutterstock_684243928

The Sarulla power plant with a total capacity of 330 MW is the largest geothermal power plant in Indonesia and also one of the 10 largest geothermal power plants in the world.

The Sarulla power plant has three combined-cycle units. Construction of the power plant started in May 2014 and the first unit named Silangkitang was completed in March 2017. Units Namora I-Langit 1 and Namora I-Langit 2 started operation in October 2017 and May 2018 respectively.

Located in North Sumatera of Indonesia, the power plant is operated by Sarulla Operations Ltd, a consortium consisting of Medco Energi, Itochu, Kyushu Electric Power Company, Inpex and Ormat with a total investment of US $1.7 billion.

The generated electricity is distributed by PLN, Perusahaan Listrik Negara, which is the state-owned electricity company of Indonesia.

This project demonstrates the commitment of the Indonesian government to increase energy production from renewable resources, especially from its huge geothermal potential. Indonesia has 40% of the world’s geothermal resources. The Indonesia government said three new geothermal power plants will start to operate this year. They are the 55 MW PLTP Lumut Balai, 40 MW PLTP Sorik Marapi and the 5 MW PLTP Sokoria.

The total installed geothermal power in the world in 2018 is 14,600 MW according to ThinkGeoEnergy. The five countries producing more than one Giga Watt (GW) of geothermal power are:

  1. The USA – 3639 MW
  2. Indonesia – 1948 MW
  3. The Philippines – 1868 MW
  4. Turkey – 1347 MW
  5. New Zealand – 1005 MW

Here is a little bit of an interesting history about the Sarulla project. The Sarulla geothermal resource was originally explored and discovered by Unocal North Sumatera Geothermal. Unocal’s plan to construct the first power plant was suspended during the financial crisis in 1998.

This article was written by Jamin Djuang, a published author of “The Story of Oil and Gas: How Oil and Gas Are Explored, Drilled and Produced” for readers who have not seen an oil field.

 

 

Lava Laze of Kilauea

 

Watch this spectacular USGS video showing lava laze formed by the lava of Kilauea volcano flowing into ocean at Kapoho bay on June 4, 2018.

The lava is from Kilauea Volcano’s lower east Rift Zone entering the ocean. The ocean entry is about a half-mile wide. The flow sends a large laze plume into the air along the coast.

 

What is lava laze?

When the lava flow goes into the ocean water, it boils the water and creates a white acidic plume. That’s laze.

“It’s a complex chemical reaction that occurs between the lava flow and seawater,” said Wendy Stovall, a volcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “It creates a mixture of condensed acidic steam, hydrochloric acid gas and tiny shards of volcanic glass.”

From the air, the plume looks like exhaust from a factory or the white smoke released during a forest fire.

If you’re underneath the plume, a light sprinkle of rain as corrosive as battery acid can fall on you. The acid can burn your skin, irritate your eyes and make it difficult to breathe. In rare cases, the damage can be permanent.

Source: LA Times article by Heidi Chang

Geothermal Plants near a Volcano

Geothermal plants can be safely situated near a volcano, says Dr. Roland Horne, Thomas Davies Barrow Professor in the School of Earth Sciences and Senior Fellow at the Precourt Institute for Energy at Standord University.

You can read the outstanding article from Stanford University titled Geothermal at the foot of Kilauea on this and on the recent volcano eruption of Mt. Kilauea in Hawaii at https://earth.stanford.edu/news/geothermal-foot-kilauea?linkId=52195066.

In this article, Dr. Roland Horne discusses geothermal energy in the face of natural hazards and a way to tap the earth’s heat far from volcanoes in the future.

I highly recommend you read the article that I mention above. In this article you can also watch the awesome lava flow from a fissure of Mt. Kilauea on May 19, 2018 and learn about Stanford University’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.