Thesis evaluates energy performance of future Cerro Pabellón geothermal plant

Monday, 26 de September

From applied sciences, Felipe Flores’ mechanical engineering thesis project sought to evaluate the energy performance of the first southamerican geothermal power plant

Felipe was always interested in learning about non-conventional renewable energies and when the time to define his thesis project came, he immediately chose geothermal energy, but to put it into practice he found one of the biggest problems facing the Chilean Academy in this area: the data needed to investigate was not available.

“Companies are reserved of what they publish, it is not easy to get information”, says Felipe, whose professor guide was Álvaro Valencia, and adds that in this process CEGA’s support was fundamental: “in addition to expanding my knowledge on geothermal energy, the team told me where to start looking, the sites and studies to review for shaping the project”

Felipe’s project consisted in determineating the potential energy of Cerro Pabellón, the first geothermal power plant in South America, a project that will be located in the Pampa Apacheta, within the commune of Ollagüe, in the Antofagasta Region.

After six months of work Felipe managed to develop a conceptual and computational model of a geothermal power plant, raising specific information about equipment, power energy and investment costs: “My research goes from what you extract from the well to outside. Beyond the geological features of the deposit, I studied the generation process, characterizing flows and defining the machinery, performance indicators and the power that can be generated”.

The progressive inclusion of applied science and engineering is one of CEGA`s current challenges. For Felipe, it is significant to have multidisciplinary teams to research various deposits, “especially because when it begins to evaluate a plant, is essential to promote technological innovation and implement operational and economic criteria, contributions that certainly can be made from engineering mechanical or electrical.”