Exploration Initiated by the Island’s Governing Body for Potential Geothermal Use

An investment of up to 86 million euros is set to be made by a collaborative effort between the Cabildo of Tenerife and the company Disa to conduct surveys in three regions of the island with the goal of harnessing geothermal energy.

The project details, scheduled to commence in 2025 with anticipated initial results by the year-end, were presented at a press conference on Tuesday. The briefing was led by the Cabildo’s president, Rosa Dávila; the Minister of Innovation, Research and Development, Juan José Martínez; DISA Renovables’ director, Joaquín Gurriarán; and the Environment area director of the Technological Institute of Renewable Energy (ITER), Nemesio Pérez.

Dávila shared insights on social media

Half of the investment, totaling 43.1 million euros, is provided through aid from the Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving (IDAE), under the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge. The remainder will be shared between the Cabildo and the company, with the possibility that the full investment may not be required if early actions yield positive outcomes, as per the island corporation.

A comprehensive exploration will cover more than 150 square kilometers in three distinct areas to the west, south, and center of the island, spanning multiple municipalities including Arico, Fasnia, La Orotava, Buenavista del Norte, Garachico, Guía de Isora, Icod de los Vinos, Santiago del Teide, Los Silos, El Tanque, Adeje, Arona, Granadilla, San Miguel, and Vilaflor.

A Pursuit of “Energy Independence” – an Uncertain yet Promising Endeavor

Dávila described this endeavor as a “future policy” for the Cabildo in its quest to transform the island into a “100% sustainable” entity by relying on “stable and clean” energy, offering more “reliability” to the system compared to photovoltaic and solar means.

She emphasized this critical juncture in the island’s history to attain energy independence and appreciated the consortium’s success in securing aid against major corporations, with over 85% of the funding being obtained, leaving just over five million for Repsol.

Nemesio Pérez stressed that each survey entails an expenditure of approximately ten million euros and will delve to a maximum depth of 2.5 kilometers. According to him, this operation will not jeopardize the island’s aquifers or the ecosystem, as the diameter is less than 50 centimeters.

He highlighted the Canary Islands as “the region with the greatest geothermal potential in Spain,” with Tenerife holding the highest potential, boasting a near 60% probability of identifying exploitable resources.

“There are no guarantees, but our intention is to pursue this to answer the question of exploitability, especially since we have been asserting the existence of a resource underground for the past 40 years,” he added.

Pérez has stated their intention to execute it “adequately to minimize the risk” and mentioned that if a 20 megawatt facility were to be established, for instance, the same results would be achieved as with a 100 mw photovoltaic plant.

With regards to geothermal energy, he emphasized its “highly competitive costs” and a lower carbon footprint compared to photovoltaic and solar energy. It also requires less land, which is “highly beneficial for the Canary Islands” given the limited territory.

The coordinator of the Canary Islands Volcanological Institute (Involcan) has highlighted the Azores as a “success story” because geothermal energy already contributes over 40% to the island’s electricity generation.

Realistic Deadlines

Juan José Martínez has mentioned that this “is the most impactful project for the future of the island” as it leads to progress towards the goal of energy independence and will result in “savings” on the fossil fuel expenses since geothermal energy “provides constant support to the system, unlike the wind and sun.”

He acknowledged that the deadlines to justify the aid “are quite strict,” but he anticipates that the ministry may consider an extension, and they also benefit from the “experience” of Involcan in surface studies.

If geothermal resources can be harnessed, the Cabildo is already considering the construction of a geothermal power plant, with a capacity of at least 30 megawatts, at an estimated cost of 170 million.

Joaquín Gurriarán has stated that this project is “extremely important” for his team and they are “enthusiastic” because “it is time to invest in transition projects,” especially on volcanic islands where 80% of electricity generation relies on imported fossil fuels. “This is an opportunity to mitigate greenhouse gases,” he added.

He emphasized that this project “is an opportunity” as it will result in reduced electricity generation costs through “sustainable and cost-effective energy.” Simultaneously, he revealed that there have been “two years of extensive research” and “full collaboration” with the Cabildo.

If the surveys are successful, he mentioned that the impact of other renewable energies will be “quadrupled.”

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