The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has released the second part of its two reports assessing the status and effectiveness of geothermal energy technologies in use around the world.The report, called The State of Geothermal Technology Part II: Surface Technology, examines everything from power plant basics and efficiencies to advanced technologies for enhanced geothermal systems. In November of last year GEA released Part I of the report, which focused on subsurface technology.
According to Alyssa Kagel, author of the report, advances in technology will play an increasingly important role in ensuring expanded development of geothermal resources.
When power plant technology in the 1980s was developed to take advantage of lower temperature geothermal resources, the geothermal industry was revolutionized, noted Kagel. So-called binary power plants are now the fastest growing types of geothermal power plants, and in the future continued advances to improve resource utilization, reliability, and economics are needed, she added.
The report details a variety of new and under-used technologies that could revolutionize the industry as binary technology did decades ago. There are also many new surface technologies that could bring about small-scale changes, but are equally important.
According to the report, incremental technology improvements might prove most valuable in the near term. Incremental improvements can be commercially implemented more quickly than larger, more revolutionary advances, and can be incorporated into existing designs with comparatively lower risk.
The report discusses new technologies such as mass-produced power plant components, recovery of sought-after minerals from geothermal fluids, and the development of new materials for plant parts that resist wear and tear.
The report features a section on non-traditional systems such as hybrids, geopressured resources, and enhanced geothermal systems, and includes a brief overview of two other geothermal applications such as direct use and heat pumps.