The Arenal Area Magazine

$130 million geothermal plant more than half done

$130 million geothermal plant more than half done

After an inspection Monday, top officials of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad said that the Proyecto Las Pailas is 65 percent complete.

Heading the tour was Eduardo Doryan Garrón, the executive president of the power and telecom institute.

Las Pailas is a geothermal generating plant on the skirt of the Rincón de la Vieja volcano in Guanacaste. This is a $160 million job that has 1,000 workers doing the construction. The project is being financed by the Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica.

The plant draws heat from the earth to move generating turbines. The plant is expected to be online in 2011.

Energy officials see this as an important project that will reduce the country’s dependency of
imported petroleum. Although much of Costa Rica’s electricity comes from hydro sources, there still are petroleum-fired generators that are particularly useful in the dry season when the lakes behind the hydro generating projects are low.

Las Pailas is supposed to generate 35 megawatts or 35 million watts. Gravin Mayorga, deputy manager of geothermics for the generating giant noted that the generation is unaffected by weather or other outside influences. It runs 365 days a year.

Diego Pérez, director of the Proyecto Geotérmico Las Pailas, said that work is at a critical point now as the final wells are punched into the ground to access the natural heat below. The project is using a unique system in which collectors driven into the ground and rock comes in contact with more heat sources below.

The project has been important to the adjacent areas. Some 85 percent of the 1,000 workers on the job are local.


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