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El Salvador joint venture taps into geothermal energy source


'HOT ROCKS' thousands of metres beneath the surface of El Salvador are to be tapped for energy in a joint venture between Shell and local specialist firm Geotermica Salvadorena SA de GV (GESAL).

The jv will apply advanced geothermal technology to produce electricity from one of GESAL's geothermal fields.

It plans to create a 'hot fractured rock' (HFR) reservoir by making an extensive network of fractures around a hot but non-productive well. It will then drill a second well into the fracture network. Water circulated though the fractures via the wells will be converted to steam, which will in turn be used to generate electricity for the El Salvador electricity grid. The joint venture expects the scheme to generate between 2MW and 5MW of power.

According to Shell, the technical viability of HFR geothermal developments has been demonstrated in a number of government-sponsored research projects in the US, Japan and the European Union.

Earlier this year, the multinational unveiled plans to invest upwards of US$500M (£342M) in developing its new energy businesses. This is its first geothermal project.

'There is still a great deal of work to be done in developing hot fractured rock technology as a commercially viable energy source, ' said John Darley, director of technology for Shell's Global Exploration & Production business. 'But we believe it has real potential to be a significant renewable energy. '

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