Baseload, Geothermal, Hydropower

Armenia Begins Drilling for Major Geothermal Station

In the second half of June, Armenia launched reconnaissance drilling of geothermal wells near Kyarkyar City in the southern part the country, according to a recent statement from Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Armenia Hayk Harutyunyan.

Harutyunyan said the location is the first of two sites that have been chosen within previous studies for the construction of a geothermal power station. Preliminary researches indicated that a station at the site would be able to produce between 30 MW and 50 MW of energy, operating 7,000 hours per year.

“The purpose of this drilling is final confirmation of the presence of geothermal resources underground,” Harutyunyan said. “In case that result of preliminary studies would be confirmed, we will launch here construction of a geothermal station with the capacity of at least 30 MW.”

At the beginning of 2016, Armenia received a Strategic Climate Fund Grant from the World Bank in the amount of US$ 8.55 million for implementation of the project. According to estimates by Armenia’s Energy Ministry, the potential capacity of the geothermal sector in the country totals 150 MW.

This data had been identified in 2009 when Armenia conducted magnetotelluric sounding of hot groundwater indicating good potential for obtaining energy from geothermal sources. In addition, some experts say that that potential is steadily growing every year, so it could be even bigger as of today.

“Due of the rapid development of relatively new volcanic processes in the country, Armenia is considered one of the most promising areas for the development of geothermal power,” Tamara Babayan, head of Armenian Renewable Energy and Energy Saving Fund, said. “We expect that station construction will be funded through private investments.”

Representatives of the Energy Ministry indicated that the geothermal station looks very promising, and in case of successful implementation of the project, it can be multiplied in the Gridsone area, where preliminary studies also indicated opportunity to construct a station with the capacity of between 30 MW and 40 MW.

The overall investment amount of the project is estimated at US$ 45 million, but the final figure is yet to be determined, since without a confirmed investor, it is hard to assess the actual cost for construction, according to representatives of the ministry.

Construction should be launched in 2017, so the station could be commissioned by 2020. The project is believed to be the biggest geothermal power station in the Caucasian region and one of the biggest in post-Soviet Union space.

Armenia has been dedicated to the development of renewable energy resources since 2009, when the country’s government adopted a program for promoting construction of small hydro power plants across the country in order to cut dependence on imported hydrocarbons.

Lead image credit: Bryn Pinzgauer | Flickr