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Method for the technical, financial, economic and environmental pre-feasibility study of geothermal power plants by RETScreen – Ecuador’s case study

Moya, Diego, Paredes, Juan, Kaparaju, Prasad
MethodsX 2018 v.5 pp. 524-531
aquaculture, case studies, debt, electricity, electricity generation, energy costs, exports, fossil fuels, geothermal energy, grants, greenhouses, heat, income, models, power plants, prices, solar energy, water power, wind, wind power, Ecuador
RETScreen presents a proven focused methodology on pre-feasibility studies. Although this tool has been used to carry out a number of pre-feasibility studies of solar, wind, and hydropower projects; that is not the case for geothermal developments. This method paper proposes a systematic methodology to cover all the necessary inputs of the RETScreen-International Geothermal Project Model. As case study, geothermal power plant developments in the Ecuadorian context were analysed by RETScreen-International Geothermal Project Model. Three different scenarios were considered for analyses. Scenario I and II considered incentives of 132.1 USD/MWh for electricity generation and grants of 3 million USD. Scenario III considered the geothermal project with an electricity export price of 49.3 USD/MWh. Scenario III was further divided into IIIA and IIIB case studies. Scenario IIIA considered a 3 million USD grant while Scenario IIIB considered an income of 8.9 USD/MWh for selling heat in direct applications. Modelling results showed that binary power cycle was the most suitable geothermal technology to produce electricity along with aquaculture and greenhouse heating for direct use applications in all scenarios. Financial analyses showed that the debt payment would be 5.36 million USD/year under in Scenario I and III. The correspindig values for Scenario II was 7.06 million USD/year. Net Present Value was positive for all studied scenarios except for Scenario IIIA. Overall, Scenario II was identified as the most feasible project due to positive NPV with short payback period. Scenario IIIB could become financially attractive by selling heat for direct applications. The total initial investment for a 22 MW geothermal power plant was 114.3 million USD (at 2017 costs). Economic analysis showed an annual savings of 24.3 million USD by avoiding fossil fuel electricity generation. More than 184,000 tCO2 eq. could be avoided annually.