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The Central American country of Nicaragua has never been as fortunate as its neighbors when it comes to energy reserves. In fact, most commercial electricity is generated by imported petroleum while a small portion of domestic energy is generated through hydropower and geothermal power. However that’s set to change with the country’s National Development Plan, which calls for 94% of the country’s electricity needs to be sourced from renewables by 2017.

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The project is designed to reinvigorate and bolster Nicaragua’s continued infrastructure development and if successful will see power sold at 37% below the average national wholesale electricity price. The current 2013 goal is to provide 50% of its total electric energy from renewable sources.

A key part of the plan is the 72 MW San Jacinto Project, a massive 9,800 acre geothermal power plant built on the San Jacinto-Tizate geothermal area, widely considered to be one of the most productive volcanic reservoirs in Latin America. The plant is an essential component for Nicaragua’s continued infrastructure development, selling power at 37% below the average wholesale electricity price in Nicaragua. It will generate approximately 17% of Nicaragua’s total electricity needs.

Now commercially operation, the San Jacinto project is still set to expand further with the addition of a binary unit or “bottoming cycle” which has the potential to add approximately 10 MW net of additional capacity.

“We are pleased with the on-budget performance of our team during the Phase II Expansion,” stated Tono Rodriguez, Vice President and COO of Latin America for Ram Power. “The Project’s Fuji America turbines have exceeded our expectations in terms of their efficiency and performance.”

“The Company and its capable San Jacinto team have greatly benefited from the collective experience acquired during Phase I construction, commissioning and sustained operation, making the Phase II construction and commissioning program a much more efficient and effective experience.”

This geothermal plant and the increased investment in hydroelectric power should hopefully see Nicaragua ween itself off its dependency of foreign oil.

+ Penn Energy

via Clean Technia

Images: ryanmilani