Geothermal energy: Asia harnesses volcanic heat to generate electricity


Although tectonic activity can produce earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes, it can also be used for more positive purposes, among them providing steam to run power plants. The Philippines and Indonesia are Asia's largest producers of geothermal power, tapping underground sources to generate 1,900 mW and 600 mW respectively. ABB automation provides equipment and control systems to both countries and is encouraging the effort to develop additional production sites.

Geothermal power is practical where there is high-temperature ground water at shallow depths trapped by beneficial rock structures. Tapping these can provide hot water or steam to feed turbines. Although individual plants tend to be small, they combine to help reduce power deficits as demand in these parts of Asia is increasing by 6 to 9% annually. The two latest projects—the 40 mW Northern Negros Geothermal Project (NNGP) in the Philippines, and the 20 mW Lahendong II project in Indonesia—will be controlled by advanced ABB automation systems, with turbines and generators from Fuji Electric. ABB and Fuji have collaborated on many projects in Asia.

Frenk Withoos, head of ABB Power System's business unit power generation division, Southeast Asia, says, 'These repeat orders from Fuji Electric demonstrate our customer's confidence in ABB's technology and power plant expertise. We are gratified that Fuji Electric recognizes ABB's value in providing solutions for automatic turbine start-up and shutdown (ATS) for geothermal power plant applications. These two projects signify the latest step in a partnership between our two companies, having previously supplied the automation system for Fuji Electric's Wayang Windu Geothermal Power Project in Indonesia.'

For the NNGP project, ABB is supplying its Extended Automation System 800xA for the entire plant, as well as field instrumentation and Ethernet interfaces for the transmission grid and national load dispatch center.

The Lahendong I plant went online in the mid 1990s, and produces 20 mW. Its sister plant, Lahendong II, will go into operation next year. Both are controlled by ABB distributed control systems.

Daily News Desk, Peter Welander ,
process industries editor , Control Engineering

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