Tapping geothermal energy


ABU DHABI – The United Arab Emirates is giving strong consideration to developing the potential of geothermal energy as a source of clean and renewable energy – something that the Philippines has been using for decades now.

The project, which is being undertaken by researchers at UAE University (UAEU) since January, has studied geological sites in both Al Ain and Ras Al Khaimah where researchers are examining the hot water spring reservoirs and analyzing their temperatures and sizes.

Dr. Hakim Saibi, associate professor of geophysics at UAEU and one of the researchers involved in the project, said that the goal is to understand the possibility of using geothermal energy in the UAE.

“We wanted to study the geothermal areas, gathering as much data as possible,” Professor Saibi said.

“As part of our research, geothermal sites in Al Ain and Ras Al Khaimah were visited, where we carried out different types of surveys on the areas. These surveys included a magnetic survey, which is the measurement of the magnetic field in the area — this allows us to understand the geological structure of the site,” he added.

Professor Saibi explained that they collected water samples in the areas, and analyzed their chemistry and temperature in the laboratories.

The information collected from the site visits revealed that the water temperatures located in the groundwater reservoirs of about three kilometers deep reached around 120 degrees Celsius.

According to Dr. Saibi, the findings point to the possibility of tapping geothermal energy in the UAE, the world’s seventh largest oil exporter that is now looking for alternatives in the face of increasing demand for electricity spawned by an expanding economy.

The Philippines has been using geothermal power plants as alternative source of power. It has plants in at least four sites, with the one in Macban, Laguna as one of the biggest.