REPORT: Renewable Energy Capacity Over 100 GW

According to a soon-to-be-released report from Business Communications Company, Inc. RE-124B Renewable Bulk Power Sources: World Markets for Biogas and Geothermal Power Plants, the total electricity generating capacity from renewable energy systems (outside of large hydro) surpassed 100 GW in 2002.

Norwalk, Connecticut – June 26, 2003 [] With a world total bulk generating capacity from all sources of 3.35 TW in place, the renewables percentage has climbed to nearly 3 percent of the total, up from a minuscule percentage a decade ago. Geothermal and biogas now account together for more than 10 percent of renewables capacity. Their share of total capacity varies from region to region, depending on resource availability and the economics of developing the systems. In most cases, the bulk of renewables generating capacity is found in developed economies. Geothermal breaks this mold by having large capacities in Indonesia and the Philippines. Similarly, bulk capacity biogas is confined to the locations of the resource, i.e., those countries that have well-designed landfills, a sewage treatment infrastructure and industrial animal husbandry operations. True dispatchable (power on demand) systems such as biogas-fueled energy conversion devices and small hydro have outputs up to 10 MW. Biomass combustion and geothermal power systems can be even larger. The report examines and quantifies the use of anaerobic digesters at landfills, wastewater treatment plants and concentrated animal feedlots in terms of the resulting power generating capacity, the number of project sites on a regional basis, and the annual project revenue. Geothermal energy has become a short-listed option for new power wherever a tectonically active region can be identified. The resource, like those of biomass, large wind turbines, and photovoltaics, is perceived to be so vast that all of human energy consumption is tiny by comparison. Whereas geothermal potential may lie in the terawatt sphere, biogas from organic waste matter has a horizon in the tens of gigawatts of capacity. But biogas is close to the point of consumption, and also a natural byproduct of the sanitary support and food industry infrastructures of modern life. Animal wastes, a growing environmental problem worldwide, are being turned into energy cash cows wherever large concentrations of cattle, swine and poultry are located. It is a value proposition that municipalities and livestock operations are finding attractive. Regional growth rates approaching the double digits are forecast for this branch of the biogas-fueled generation industry. Geothermal power projects, on the other hand, require larger capital investments to achieve economies of scale The product is a baseload generating capacity whose value is augmented by renewable energy (green) credits and ancillary services to the grid.

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