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India to establish first geothermal energy plants

India states Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal pitch for development of BRIC country’s first geothermal power plants ranging from 3MW to 5MW

India geothermal plant
India is estimated to have 10,000MW geothermal potential

Plans to build India's first geothermal power plants are underway. Indian states Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal are the first of many to announce interest in developing the BRIC country's first geothermal energy plant, with power capacity in the range of 3MW to 5MW.

The news follows reports in July that the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of India (MNRE) plans to set up a geothermal energy policy later this year to guide future projects.

"We are proactive on the geothermal front. A draft policy on geothermal energy is ready" – an MNRE official said.

The news came from the "Geothermal Energy - Initiative and Development" conference. Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University organised the event, which took place on 26 July 2013 in Gujarat's capital city Gandhinagar.

Companies involved in the Indian geothermal projects include ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) in Gujarat. The company has started exploring clean energy to create growth opportunities and maximise shareholder value.

ONGC started cooperation with Belgian company Talboom last year.

"The pilot power plant of 3 to 5MW scale would be set up through a 50:50 joint venture between OEC and Talboom by 2013-14," an ONGC official said.

Earlier this year Indian electric utilities company NTPC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Chhattisgarh State Renewable Energy Development Agency. The aim of the agreement is to explore the potential of geothermal resources and implement a geothermal power project in Tattapani, Chhattisgarh, according to the government of India.

NTPC has started exploratory and preparatory work in this area. The company has also started talks with ONGC and other international organisations to discuss drilling operations. NTPC said it expects to start the project activities within the next 18 months after finalisation of the Detailed Project Report, a government official said.

India is said to have a geothermal potential of 10,000MW, according to India Energy Portal. The Tattapani geothermal field is the most promising geothermal resource in central India, the government has said. Work to assess geothermal resource in Tattapani has been carried out over the last 30 years.