Geothermal training center in El Salvador receives $2mn grant

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on May 14 said it has awarded a grant for approximately $2 million that will help El Salvador establish a geothermal training center for Latin America and the Caribbean. The center, IDB said, will enable other countries to develop their capacities to efficiently exploit this geothermal as a renewable energy sources.

The program’s three courses will be held at Universidad de El Salvador between 2013 and 2015. Each course will be taken by 30 geothermal experts. The operation will also finance 10 scholarships for Salvadoran participants and another 10 scholarships for participants from other countries.

The project, which was approved by the IDB Board of Executive Directors, will provide the only theoretical and practical graduate-level training in geothermal energy available in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2010, Universidad de El Salvador, together with LaGeo and support from Italy, offered a specialized degree course on a pilot basis. The new program will include an evaluation of this pilot course.

A Sustainable Regional Training Plan in Geothermal Energy will be prepared to examine future demand for training as well as academic and financial aspects. The plan will define curriculum and teaching methods needed to ensure that participants receive the best training available in the region. Studies will also be conducted to determine the demand for masters or doctoral-level training in geothermal energy.

The region’s geothermal development potential is estimated at 6,000 MW. Of this, 43 percent is located in Central America, 39 percent in Mexico, 17 percent in the Andean region, and 1 percent in the Southern Cone. Two geothermal fields in El Salvador are currently being exploited, Ahuachapán and Berlíncon, with a combined installed capacity of 204 MW. This represents 14 percent of national installed capacity and 25 percent of net generation capacity, with production projected for an additional 25-30 years.

Of the program’s total cost of $2.9 million, approximately $1.4 million were provided by the Nordic Development Fund and $824,000 from the Fund for the Special Program on Sustainable Energy and Climate Change (SECCI-IDB). Counterpart financing for the program totals $770,000.

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