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Big Iron in Nicaragua: A Muscular New Geothermal Plant! The San Jacinto-Tizate Geothermal Project

By Chun Chin, Kevin Wallace, William Harvey, Mike Long, Bridget Dalin, POWER Engineers, Inc., Hailey, Idaho USA


Nicaragua is now the host country for a large geothermal power plant, the 72 MW + San Jacinto-Tizate Power Plant, developed, owned and operated by Polaris Energy Nicaragua, S.A., a subsidiary of Ram Power, Inc. of the U.S. The new flash steam plant is located in northwest Nicaragua, near the city of León, approximately 90 km northwest of Managua. The plant is a monument to the patient aspirations of the developers and the plant hosts, since the recent completion and commissioning crowned a complex multi-year development cycle in which small, comparatively simple pioneer units cleared a commercial and political space for a large and highly evolved development. The long-studied San Jacinto-Tizate (SJT) resource, in the project’s first course, provided flash steam for two skid-delivered backpressure units. This initial phase eventually yielded to staged installation of two new condensing flash units, each of 36 MW capacity, with a dessert course of a binary bottoming cycle now getting the finishing touches.

At its current capacity of 72 MW, the plant is the largest in Nicaragua. As of 2013, it supplies the country with 12 percent of its total electricity needs. Further development of other area resources will be central to improving Nicaragua’s industrial and gross domestic product (GDP) growth, in concert with a transition to indigenous and lower-carbon-intensity energy production. In this paper, we present a review of the San Jacinto-Tizate project and its benefits to Nicaragua.

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