Geothermal Projects Being Developed in 70 Countries

Geothermal energy is seeing increasing interest from all corners of the world according to a new report by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA). The Geothermal Energy: International Market Update, released last week at the Global Geothermal Showcase and Forum in Washington, D.C., reports that 24 countries increased power online by 20% since an International Geothermal Association report in 2005. With more than 10,000 MW installed, geothermal power is providing electricity worldwide to over 52 million people.

The report finds that while growth among nations with geothermal power online was big, there was also an enormous increase in the number of countries actively pursuing geothermal power projects. Seventy nations currently have projects under consideration, a 52% increase from the last international report compiled by GEA in 2007.

Projects under development grew the most dramatically in two regions of the world, Europe and Africa. Ten countries in Europe were listed as having geothermal projects under development in 2007, but in 2010 this has more than doubled to 24 nations. Six countries in Africa were identified in 2007, now 11 are actively working to produce geothermal power.

Global geothermal development is being driven in part by a number of regional institutions which, in addition to financing geothermal projects, are enhancing regional cooperation within an emerging renewable energy sector. Examples include the African Rift Geothermal Energy Development Facility (ARGeo), which underwrites drilling risks in six African nations and is backed by UNEP and the World Bank as well as the geothermal initiatives of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development supported by European Union climate policies.

Country-by-country highlights from the report include:

  • The U.S. leads the world in geothermal electricity production with approximately 3,086 MW of installed capacity from 77 power plants.
  • The Philippines now follows the U.S. as the second highest producer of geothermal power in the world, with 1,904 MW. Energy from geothermal power makes up approximately 18% of the country’s electricity generation.
  • Germany has more than 150 geothermal power plant projects at some stage of development, and expects to have over 280 MW on line by 2020 according to the European Commission.
  • Geothermal power plants provide 26% of the electricity in El Salvador.
  • Kenya hopes to be producing 490 MW of geothermal power by 2012 and as much as 4,000 MW within 20 years.
  • Turkey has a goal to reach 550 MW of geothermal power on line by 2013.
  • Indonesia’s National Energy Blueprint sets a goal of 9,500 MW of geothermal power production, an 800% increase.
  • Iceland derives 25% of its electricity and 90% of its heating from geothermal resources.

“The colossal growth of the international market is only a small fraction of the geothermal power potential we could be utilizing,” said Karl Gawell, GEA’s executive director. “Even if we assume the lowest possible projections for geothermal potential, the vast majority of countries don’t fully use their geothermal resource. In 1999 we identified 39 nations that could provide 100% of their electrical needs from geothermal, fully powering their countries with a clean, renewable and domestic source, but only nine of them have geothermal power online. The development potential here is very obviously tremendous.”

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