Geothermal energy production has expanded 50 percent over the past decade and this renewable power sources is now serving over 47 million people worldwide, according to data released by the U.S. Geothermal Energy Association (GEA). At the beginning of the century, 21 countries produced electricity using their geothermal resources.WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 15, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] The data released by GEA shows only a slight increase in geothermal production in the US and Europe, but significant gains in other countries. Over the last decade, geothermal production in Indonesia quadrupled from 144 MW to 589 MW. Japan nearly tripled its geothermal power from 214 MW to 546 MW. In the Philippines geothermal energy jumped from 891 MW to over 1900 MW and now meets 25 percent of the country’s total electricity needs. Four new countries joined the ranks of geothermal producers for the first time: Australia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Guatemala. The U.S. continued to be the world’s leader in total geothermal energy production despite almost no growth in the past decade. “But this could change,” according to Karl Gawell, Executive Director of GEA. Measures being considered in Congress could bring on a new geothermal power boom in the US. “If Congress acts to support Renewable Energy, we could see a return to the double-digit annual growth that occurred in the 80s,” he said. GEA highlighted two particularly important Senate energy bill provisions: the production tax credit and renewable portfolio standard. The Senate bill would expand the production tax credit to new geothermal facilities – this tax provision is widely credited with fueling the dramatic growth of the wind industry in the US, but is not currently available to other renewable technologies. Also, the Senate has adopted a national renewable portfolio standard that would require power generators to produce 10 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2020. “The progress made over the past decade is good news for the earth’s environment, but just the beginning of what we could do if governments placed greater emphasis on developing their geothermal and other renewable energy resources, particularly the US government,” said Gawell. According to GEA, geothermal resources have the potential to support 80,000 MW of power using today’s technology, which would meet the electricity needs of 865 million people. “The heat of the earth is an enormous resource that we have just begun to tap,” said Gawell.