The World Bank has allocated $8.5 million to finance exploratory drillings that could lead to the construction of a first-ever geothermal power plant in Armenia.
The grant, approved by the bank’s governing board in Washington on Monday, will be channeled into the Karkar site in the country’s southeastern Syunik province chosen as a result of preliminary geological surveys conducted by Armenian and foreign experts.
A World Bank statement said the planned exploration there will gauge the amounts of underground hot water or rock in the mountainous area that could be used for cost-effective power generation purposes. “The early-stage analyses suggested that a 28 [megawatt] geothermal power plant with a total estimated cost of $90-100 million could potentially be constructed at the site,” it said. The plant could be built “with a mix of public and private capital,” it added.
According to Laura Bailey, the head of the bank’s office in Yerevan, that facility would in turn pave the way for “development of additional geothermal resources at other prospective sites.” “The total potential for geothermal power in Armenia is currently estimated at around 150 megawatts,” Bailey was quoted by the statement as saying.
By comparison, the sole functioning rector of the nuclear power at Metsamor has an operational capacity of about 410 megawatts. It generates around 40 percent of Armenia’s electricity.
The World Bank grant will be provided to Armenia within the framework of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) set up by several multilateral lending institutions with the aim of curbing greenhouse gas emissions, including through greater use of renewable energy in developing countries. Renewable energy resources currently account for a negligible share of Armenian electricity output.