El Salvador - Electricity Generation

In the country geothermal has been one of the main sources of electricity since the mid-1970s, and today the total installed capacity from geothermal resources in the country is 204 MWe, (Ahuachapán 95 MWe, Berlin 109 MWe) covering about 24% of the electricity needs with 13% of total installed capacity. The development plans of LaGeo (2015 – 2020), include a 28 MWe Unit 5 plus 5.7 MWe for the second bottoming binary cycle at Berlin and 5 MWe for the re-powering of Unit 2 at Ahuachapán geothermal field. LaGeo continues to develop geothermal projects in the areas of Chinameca and San Vicente, where the drilling exploratory stage confirmed a high enthalpy resource; and a power plant of 50 MWe and another of 30 MWe are planned to develop at the Chinameca and San Vicente geothermal fields respectively (Herrera, et al., 2010).

Development since WGC2010: no new plants commissioned.

Installed capacity 204 MWe
Geothermal Electricity 1,442 GWh/y 

Source:  Ruggero Bertani, Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2010-2014 Update Report

Installed geothermal generating capacity (December 2009) in MW


There are two major geothermal fields in this country: Ahuachapán and Berlín, for a total capacity of about 200 MW, producing 25% of the electricity needs of the country. Both the fields are operated by LaGeo, in partnership with Enel Green Power. The increase from 2005 was of 53 MW (35% in capacity, 47% in energy), for the two new units at Berlin of 44 MW flash and 9 MW binary.

In the Ahuachapán area (temperature of 250°C) two 30 MW single flash and one 35 MW double flash are currently online (1975-1981); due to the reservoir decline, only 84 MW net units are currently in operation. A project for reaching the full capacity loading of the units (Ahuachapán optimization) is under study. In 2006 the reinjection reached the target of 100% of the exploited fluid. It is under consideration also the possibility of repowering unit 2, adding 5 MW to the total capacity of the field.

In Berlín (where 300°C have been recorded) two 28 MW single flash units have been installed before 2005 (1992- 1999); two major additions have been placed online up to today: a bottoming cycle binary unit for 9.4 MW (on line in 2008) and a single flash 44 MW units (commissioned in 2006), built by Enel Green Power under a shareholder agreement with LaGeo. In 2003 it has been drilled the most productive well of the Latin America, with a production of 20-30 MW from the steam cap at about 1,000 m depth. A new unit for additional 28 MW is planned. In the Chinameca area feasibility studies for a 50 MW units are on going (a single well at 1,900 m reached temperature around 240°C).

The total installed capacity of the country is foreseen about 290 MW.

Taken from Ruggero Bertani’s paper, " Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2005–2010 Update Report ", published in Proceedings of the World Geothermal Congress 2010, Bali, Indonesia, 25-29 April 2010