(Reprinted from the November/December GRC Bulletin)
International participation at the 36th GRC Annual Meeting, held September 30-October 3 in Reno, Nevada, USA, was especially strong this year, with more than 40 countries represented. The growth of geothermal energy activity in emerging markets today is significantly higher than that of the U.S., and should offer unique opportunities for U.S.-based providers of geothermal goods and services. For the fifth year, the annual meeting broadened its international outreach by hosting an International Luncheon on the first day of the conference.
The idea for the luncheon is to bring together international attendees and U.S. geothermal stakeholders from both public and private sectors.
Introduced by GRC’s Interim Executive Director, Steve Ponder, the first presentation was given by Professor Alfredo Lahsen of the University of Chile, who provided an update on his country’s geothermal energy developments.
Chile has vast, untapped, geothermal resources of 17,000 MWe and over 10 percent of the world’s land volcanoes, and more than 200 hot springs. The Chilean government has now awarded more than 69 geothermal exploration concessions and 4 exploitation concessions.
Exploration drilling has been completed in five areas: Tinguiririca, Calabozos, Laguna del Maule, Chillan and Tolhuaca (or San Gregorio). The latter two have completed production wells and are moving quickly to become South America’s first geothermal electric power generating projects.
Prof. Lahsen, who was instrumental in the drafting of the Geothermal Energy Law in 2000 that regulates the ownership of geothermal resources, described at least four projects that are in the pipeline. Domestic and international investment in the sector continues with players such as ENEL-ENAP, GeoGlobal Energy Chile, and multiple mining companies.
The second presentation was given by Edward Kiroge, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KENGEN) who provided a review of Kenya’s aggressive geothermal expansion program.
His presentation provided a detailed review of the African continent’s unrivaled leader in geothermal energy development. His presentation was on behalf of Kenya’s two leading geothermal institutions, KENGEN and the Geothermal Development Company (GDC). Dr. Silas Simuyi, the Director of GDC, had been invited, but was unable to attend the meeting this year.
Edward Kiroge’s comprehensive presentation provided a wealth of statistics about Kenya’s geothermal development. As of 2012, Kenya’s national electricity installed capacity is 1708 MWe of which 51 percent is from hydro, 34 percent is from thermal, and 13 percent is from geothermal resources, a total of 207 MWe.
The country’s geothermal resources are large. KENGEN estimates more than 10,000 MWe. Kenya’s population has only 20 percent average access to electricity, and even lower (12 percent) for their rural population. With its population of over 40 million, electricity demand continues to outstrip supply. Since 2003 Kenya’s electricity demand has been growing at 8-10 percent per year. Their national capacity expansion vision for 2030 sees 30 percent of the total expected installed capacity of 15,066 MWe coming from geothermal resources.
Edward Kiroge reported that development partners for the expansion of the Olkaria I and IV projects (280 MWe by 2014) have committed over 920 million USD from a spectrum of players including: China, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and the World Bank. Kenya is pioneering success with 5 MWe portable geothermal wellhead plants.
Mr. Kiroge concluded by announcing that Kenya is currently advertising for expression of interests for partners interested in a development of 560 MWe of geothermal power (to be divided into four phases with 140 MWe each). He also added that GDC is also in the process of developing the first phase of 400 MWe in Menengai geothermal field. He reiterated that Kenya’s national goal is to develop 5000 MWe geothermal capacity by 2030.
Finally, the last presentation was given by Tevifik Kaya from the Turkish Petroleum International Company (TPIC). Turkey’s geothermal energy potential is estimated at 30,000 MWe. As of September 2011, the country’s total installed electricity capacity is 53,106 MWe, of which only 114 MWe, only 0.3 percent is from geothermal resources.
Currently, Turkey has proven 4,000 MWe of geothermal resources over 20 degrees centigrade of which 600-1,000 MW are high temperature fields able to produce electricity.
Due to its economic expansion over the past 8 years, Turkey has become one of the world’s fastest growing energy markets. According to Mr. Kaya, Turkey’s Electricity Transport Corporation (TETC) estimates that demand for electricity will increase at a rate of 6 percent per year between 2009 and 2023.
The increase in geothermal electricity production between 2009 and 2011 was 9 percent. Much of this has been possible as a result of a Feed-In-Tariff of 5-5.5 cents Euros for renewables established in 2005. Mr. Kaya also reported on the continued increase in drilling activity in his country.
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