PNG Power Chief Executive Officer, John Tangit, says that for Papua New Guinea to develop geothermal energy, there must be a substantial amount of funding commitment upfront.
Mr Tangit who visited Iceland last year in the company of Minister for State Enterprise and Public Investment, Ben Micah, said that these funds will cover costs ranging from geological survey through to resistivity tests and the actual installation of plants.
PNG’s geographical location on the Pacific Ring of Fire gives it that advantage to capitalize on the natural resource.
Papua New Guinea, like any other country that produces and uses geothermal energy, has the potential to utilize and commercialise geothermal power.
Geothermal energy involves using heat from within the earth like hot water or steam to heat buildings or generate power.
In PNG, Lihir Gold Mine utilises geothermal sources for the power needs of the mine. Other countries that produce and utilise geothermal energy includes the United States, Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, Italy, New Zealand, Iceland, Japan, El Salvador and Kenya.
Some of the advantages of using this energy is the fact that it’s clean energy that is taken from the earth thus, no fuel is used and no pollution in the environment.
The government’s investment in geothermal energy can create jobs for the local people. Minister for State Enterprise and Public Investment Ben Micah felt the same way after his visit to Iceland last year to sign an agreement between PNG Power and Reykjavik Geothermal to assist with creating a plan for the development of geothermal power for Papua New Guinea.
The down sides of using geothermal energy is the fact that this form of energy is not widely used as it is restricted to areas that have hot rocks below the earth and that can produce steam over a long period of time.
Another bad side is the high installation costs in setting up a geothermal power plant. This was echoed by the PNG Power CEO in a recent news conference.
Other disadvantages include the fact that areas that produce geothermal energy can run out of steam thus disrupting the Geothermal plants. Geothermal Energy cannot be easily transported therefore, once the energy is extracted, it can be only used in the surrounding areas and at times releases toxic gases therefore, and geothermal plants must be built to cater for this.
Despite all these, the real benefit that exists for Papua New Guinea is the long term one given the fact that most mining activities are driven by diesel generation, an expensive cost for the industry. Thus, developing the geothermal energy may be costly but can be the way forward to clean green energy.
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