Geothermal Capacity Building Project (GCBP)

Client: Icelandic International Developing Agency (ICEIDA)
Collaborators: Nicaraguan Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM)
Location: Nicaragua
Date: 2008–2012 
Coordinator at ÍSOR: Þráinn Friðriksson

The Icelandic International Development Agency, ICEIDA, is currently implementing a five-year capacity building project for the geothermal sector in Nicaragua. Iceland GeoSurvey is the main consultant for the project.

Project goals:

The primary goal of the project is to enhance the utilization of geothermal resources in Nicaragua for power production. The project aims at building capacity in many fields of geothermal utilization among Nicaraguans, particularly within the public sector but also within the private sector.

The Iceland GeoSurvey approach:

1.  Direct technical assistance

Experts from Iceland GeoSurvey and other institutions work with local experts on specific projects that fall within the mandate of the Nicaraguan government, specifically the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) and the Ministry for the Environment (MARENA). The nature of these projects is diverse but the common theme is that the government institutions are required by law to complete them but they lack the expertise to do so.


  • evaluation of reports on surface exploration
  • evaluation of power plant design
  • compilation of a guidebook on Environmental Impact Assessment
  • classification and evaluation of the protective value of areas with geothermal potential

 The objective of direct technical assistance is to:

  • complete obligatory tasks of the government institutions and thereby expediting the geothermal development of the country
  • transfer experience and knowledge to local experts
  • All projects are done in close collaboration with Nicaraguan experts.

2.  Installation of a geochemical laboratory

ICEIDA and MEM are working together to strengthen the geothermal unit of MEM. MEM has hired chemists and geologists and ICEIDA has sponsored the installation of a geochemical laboratory. ICEIDA has also sponsored other infrastructure and equipment purchases such as a GIS system for maintaining geographic data. Iceland GeoSurvey has provided consultation on equipment needs of the laboratory. 

3.  Education and training

Education and training are among the most important components of the Geothermal Capacity Building Project. A variety of education and training activities will be offered, including

  • short courses and seminars on specific aspects of geothermal energy
  • studies at the United Nations University Geothermal Training Program in Iceland
  • extensive field training where Icelandic specialists will work with local experts
  • collaborative interpretation and presentation of field data


Increased capacity of the Nicaraguan government to support geothermal development in the country in several ways, including:

  • Preparation of tendering documents for new concessions
  • Evaluation of surface exploration studies
  • Evaluation of drilling reports and well testing
  • Processing and interpretation of production history data
  • Evaluation of the conditions of geothermal reservoirs
  • Prefeasibility studies of high- and low-enthalpy areas
  • Environmental impact assessments of geothermal development
  • Definition of standards and norms for the geothermal industry
  • Installation of a geochemical laboratory