Puna Geothermal Ventures, a 38 MW plant in the lava flow area of the Big Island, is completely offline. The wells have been capped. Two wellheads have been covered by lava. A substation has been destroyed. Personnel has been evacuated. PGV did generate 25% of Big Island power, which now has to be provided by other resources, which probably means fossil fuel.
No one knows when the plant will open again. If the wells have been damaged underground or geothermal energy is no longer accessible due to subterranean ground movement and lava flows, then it could be a very long time before PGV is back online providing clean, renewable energy.
Ormat Technologies Inc. provides an update that on May 30, 2018, due to the approaching lava, the substation of the Puna complex and an adjacent warehouse that stored a drilling rig were burned. Both items are expected to be covered by the Company’s insurance policies. Due to the long lead time of constructing a new substation and the extent of the damage to HELCO’s transmission lines, the Company cannot assess when the Puna complex will be able to resume operation and deliver power to the grid.
The approaching lava also covered and blocked the main access road to the power plant. Alternative access road is currently open.
As announced on May 28, the approaching lava covered the wellheads of two geothermal wells. The Company cannot assess at this stage the extent of the damage to the future functionality of these wells. As of today, the lava did not cover any additional wells. The lava continues to flow and may reach other wells and areas of the Puna facility.