Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Geothermal Country Notes
Argentina is in the forefront of South American utilisation of geothermal resources and in recent years there has been much progress in the knowledge of, and direct use of, the resource. This has undoubtedly been helped by the bill for the Renewable Energies Development Act being passed by the Senators Chamber which states that renewable technologies (including geothermal) will supply 8% of electricity consumption.
High-temperature geothermal heat exists in the western region, along the Andes range and moderate to low-temperature thermal fields have been identified in other parts of the country. In the period between 2000 and 2005 nineteen new areas were studied resulting in seven of them moving to the Development and Production stage, eleven to the Pre-Feasibility stage and one to the Reconnaissance stage.
The seven projects in the Development and Production stage are located in the provinces of Entre Rios, Córdoba and Rio Negro and will supply thermal spas and tourist centres, as part of the Government's drive towards a diversification of the economy.
With the plan of providing further thermal spas, the eleven Pre-Feasibility projects are located in the provinces of Córdoba, Entre Rios, Santa Fe, Misiones and Buenos Aires. In early 2007 the Argentine Ministerio de Economía y Producción reported that the projects were at varying stages of development. Those in Córdoba province (3) were the least well advanced, owing to technological difficulties; projects (2) located in Misiones province had shown considerable progress and drilling had taken place; the status of the projects (4) in Entre Rios province were well-advanced with drilling either under way or completed; thermal drilling of the Santa Fe province project was imminent and drilling of the Buenos Aires province project was due to begin in the near future.
The Reconnaissance stage projects (2) are located in Chubut province but only one, a trout-breeding scheme is progressing well.
Of the currently installed 150 MWt capacity, 22 MWt is used for individual space heating, 22 MWt for greenhouse heating, 7 MWt for fish farming, 14 MWt for animal farming, 1 MWt for snow melting and 84 MWt for bathing and swimming.
The 670 kW binary-cycle pilot power plant at Copahue went off-line in 1996 but construction of a new station (Copahue II) is currently being considered for the generation of electricity again, either as a 100 MWe plant or as 2 x 50 MWe built progressively.