Commercial Study Examines Market for Green Electricity

Between US$25 and $40 billion will be invested to construct geothermal power plants during the next 20 years, according to a study of the international market for green power.

LAKEWOOD, Colorado, US, 2001-09-12 [SolarAccess.com] Between US$25 and $40 billion will be invested to construct geothermal power plants during the next 20 years, according to a study of the international market for green power. The international potential for geothermal is “huge,” according to the ‘Utility-Scale Green Power Report’ produced by Energy Info Source. It quotes the Geothermal Energy Association estimate that geothermal resources using current technology have the potential to support between 35,000 and 72,000 MW of generation capacity, which would double to as much as 138,000 MW using enhanced technology under development. The 175 page study examines the market for utility-scale green power from geothermal, biopower, ocean power, photovoltaics, concentrating solar and wind energy. It discusses the economics of green power and its market potential, and the use of green pricing programs. Global generation from biomass is expected to grow to 30,000 MW by 2020, while ocean energy (wave, tidal and ocean thermal) will rise from the 1995 capacity of 685 kW of grid-connected power to provide electricity in small island nations in the South Pacific. “Solar is the green power technology that has had the least penetration of the utility scale market,” the report explains, but the U.S. government predicts the opening of specialized niche markets in that country over the next ten years. The Department of Energy estimates that, by 2005, there will be 500 MW of concentrating solar power capacity worldwide. “Wind has been the fastest growing energy technology in the world for the past decade,” with 1999 setting a record for installed utility-scale turbines of 3,900 MW, representing investments totaling $4 billion. “The deregulation of electricity markets is one of the primary drivers of increasing worldwide utility scale green power production,” says the report. Competition provides a number of benefits to utilities which go green, including reduced pollution, diversification of the energy mix, reduced dependence on fossil fuels, local economic benefits and enhanced corporate image. The threat of global warming has “significantly increased” the attention that governments pay to the environment, and consumers are also willing to pay a premium for green power. “The cost to generate power from renewable sources remains, on average, more expensive than conventional sources. However, in certain circumstances, green power generation is cost competitive.” The U.S. does not support the international Kyoto protocol on emission reductions, and “it has no specific target for reducing CO2 emissions or using green power,” it continues. The federal government has set-up the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy to guide research and deployment of green power, and has a target of 25,000 MW of green power installed by 2010. In Europe, the European Union has a target for green power of 22.1 percent across the continent by 2010.
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