Ram Power to Increase Rates 17%

Ram power has received permission from the Nicaraguan government to increase the wholesale electrical rates from its geothermal plant by 17% with increments after that. This is described in their press release.

The press release goes on to say that these rates will be 37% below the average wholesale electricity rates. Unfortunately, there are no real numbers -- just percentages quoted. With most of Nicaragua's electricity coming from petroleum-fired plants, that doesn't sound cheap enough. If Nicaragua wants to become a serious electricity exporter it would seem like it needs to do better. I (also) don't have real numbers but most of Costa Rica's electricity comes from renewable sources.

The tariff increase request was thoroughly reviewed by the Nicaraguan Ministry of Energy and Mines ("MEM"), the Nicaraguan Energy Institute ("INE"), Disnorte-Dissur, a subsidiary of Gas Natural Fenosa (the power purchaser under the power purchase agreement for the Project), and the Nicaragua Energy Cabinet whose recommendation was subsequently acknowledged by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. The formal documentation implementing the increased tariff is now expected to be registered expeditiously by INE.

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not fast enough for you?

By the end of December, the San Jacinto Tizate geothermal plant will be double its current size and producing almost 20% of the country's power at 37% less than the average wholesale price AND they're already doing test drilling for their next plant.

It's still only 2013. The longer term plan was to get rid of the oil fired plants by 2015, replacing them with more geothermal and hydro.

San Jacinto

After reading what's quoted here below, I wonder if the earth-shaking vibrations from the geothermal well at San Jacinto had anything to do with the activity of volcan Telica (see node/18525, 2011/05/19)

"... larger scale geothermal projects known as enhanced geothermal systems have raised serious concerns because these larger power-production projects involve drilling wells down to tens of thousands of feet and fracturing the bedrock so water can be injected to create steam.

"A few years ago, a project in Switzerland was shut down after it caused small earthquakes, and another project in Northern California was also stopped because of similar concerns."

_______from: NY Times, Nov 6, 2012, "Geothermal Designs..." by Alison Gregor

No fears there because

It's not an enhanced geothermal system. Those are actually experimental (and rare) right now. The wells at San Jacinto also aren't nearly that deep.

The project went on-line at the end of December and it is going through a month of testing now.


2012 Renewable Energy

In 2012, forty percent of the electricity consumed in Nicaragua is created from renewable energy with a target of 50% by the end this year 2013 with the hydropower plant in Jinotega and a new wind farm in the southern town of Rivas.

The revised long term goal is 70 percent renewable by 2017 and 93% by 2026.

Not the speed

It's not an issue of how fast they are ramping up. That part seems great. The issue is the price. Electricity in Nicaragua is very expensive. While 37% less is a very good thing I still don't think that gets it competative with, for example, Costa Rica.

I realize that

Costa Rica is already 97% renewable power. Nicaragua is racing to catch up. One new geothermal plant isn't suddenly going to make your power competitive, but you're blaming the cheap power for not being even cheaper. And you know the plans are being carried out to get more renewable power, which is why I asked if it wasn't fast enough for you.

There were some expensive cost overruns during development at SJT. I'm thinking some of this is compensation plus it's going to help finance the development of their next plant at Casita-San Cristobal.

It just so happens...

A renewable power generation primer

Friday, September 07, 2012


Graphics showing the Tumarin Project