CNMI EYED FOR GEOTHERMAL ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

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Texas investor seeks project backing

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Aug. 2, 2010) – To reduce the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) reliance on fossil fuels, the administration said it is also looking at the potentials of geothermal energy.

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial disclosed last week that a group from Houston, Texas is interested in a geothermal exploration project in the CNMI which will pave the way for a more affordable and more reliable power source in the commonwealth.

The potential investor is now forging ties with a Japanese company and will send a representatives to the CNMI anytime this month, the governor said.

The investor, he added, conducted an initial study last year.

The U.S. Geological Survey, he said, already made an assessment and has found that the CNMI has geothermal energy potentials.

According to Fitial, the interested investor wants to get a partner from Japan that will provide the drilling equipment.

said geothermal exploration in the CNMI requires drilling 6,000 feet below the surface.

The most common way of capturing energy from geothermal sources is to tap the naturally occurring "hydrothermal convection" systems where cooler water seeps into Earth’s crust, is heated up, and then rises to the surface.

Geothermal power plants drill their own holes into the rock to more effectively capture the steam.

If these resources can be tapped, they offer enormous potential for electricity production capacity.

The USGS estimated that conventional geothermal sources have the potential capacity to produce 8,000 to 73,000 megawatts.

Drilling and exploration for deep resources, however, is very expensive

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