Thermax, the Pune-based capital goods manufacturer, is set to partner Icelandic firm Reykjavík Geothermal to set up a geothermal power project in India.
A pilot 3 MW project is slated to be set up in Puga Valley in Ladakh, which is likely to be the first such project in the country, industry sources said.
Geothermal projects harness the intense heat in molten rocks under the earth’s crust for electricity generation and domestic heating.
Reykjavik Geothermal will help in drilling and exploration activities for the project, which are part of Thermax’s plans to enter the ‘green energy’ sector.
The Pune-based company is also reportedly looking at solar power as a diversification avenue.
Geothermal power plants use steam, heat or hot water from geothermal reservoirs to provide the force that spins the turbine generators and produces electricity.
The used geothermal water is then returned down an injection well into the reservoir to be reheated and to sustain the reservoir.
The estimated potential for geothermal energy in India is about 10,000 MW.
In India, exploration and study of geothermal fields started in 1970 and around 350 potential geothermal locations have been identified in India by the Geological Survey of India (GSI). Puga Valley is known for high temperature geothermal systems, with the geothermal activity concentrated in a three-sq km area of the 15-km long Valley.
Iceland, along with the US and the Philippines, is among the leaders in harnessing geothermal energy.
Due to the special geological location of Iceland, the high concentration of volcanoes in the area is often an advantage in the generation of geothermal energy, the heating and production of electricity.
Five major geothermal power plants exist in Iceland, that produce approximately 24 per cent of the nation’s energy in 2009.
In addition, geothermal heating meets the heating and hot water requirements of nearly 90 per cent of all buildings in Iceland.
According to the International Geothermal Association, an estimated 10,715 MW of geothermal power capacity is currently on stream in 24 countries. In 2010, the US led the world in geothermal electricity production with 3,086 MW of installed capacity from 77 power plants.
The Philippines is the second-highest generator, with 1,904 MW of capacity online, with geothermal power making up approximately 18 per cent of the country’s electricity generation.
In India, from the point of view of electrification of rural and remote areas, geothermal energy has a great potential in terms of its impact in the Himalayan region, where even small projects of 5 kilowatts can significantly change the economic situation and living standards.