Though the potential and power of geothermal energy is massive, setting up a large-scale plant to harness this energy is not an easy goal.
Pradhnya Tajne | Transparency Market Research
Geothermal energy is considered as one of the most important sources of renewable energy followed by solar, wind, and hydro. But surprisingly, for decades, the geothermal sector has laid dormant. However, with nations worldwide setting up ambitious targets to cut down their carbon emissions, there is now an aggressive exploration of sources that can provide clean energy.
One of the most promising sources of renewable energy that regions around the world are increasingly focusing on is geothermal power. These explorations are finally stirring up the geothermal giant. According to a 1999 report from the Geothermal Energy Association called ‘The Potential for Clean Power from the Earth’, geothermal energy resources using the existing technology in that year had the potential to provide around 35,000 to 72,000 megawatts of global electricity generation capacity. Furthermore, by using advanced technology, the geothermal energy resources can provide around 65,000 to 138,000 megawatts of electrical generation capacity.
This shows how tremendous the potential of geothermal power is. Currently, some of the large-scale geothermal power stations provide output worth a couple hundred megawatts. Let us look at the regional geothermal energy markets and their installed capacities.
Snapshot of the Global Geothermal Energy Market
Europe: Europe boasts substantial geothermal resources. According to a report titled ‘Status of Geothermal Energy Use and Resources in Europe’, in terms of installed capacity of geothermal power, Italy is leading with 5200 Gwh/year, trailed by Iceland at 1500 Gwh/year. In Italy, Azores, and other islands of volcanic origin have geothermal power plants, which are substantially contributing to a clean, environment-friendly, and sustainable energy supply. Other countries with moderate installed capacities in Europe are Germany, Russia, France, and Portugal.
North America: In 2012, geothermal energy sector in the U.S. generated around 17 million megawatt-hours. In 2012, the U.S. boasted geothermal electricity production of approximately 3,300 megawatts in terms of installed capacity. One of the largest geothermal power plants in the world is located at the Geysers, which is a geothermal field based in California. This field produces around 15 billion kilowatt-hours of geothermal energy per year.
APAC: Though, the U.S. boasts the largest number of projects in the pipeline in the geothermal energy sector, Asia Pacific has the most reported capacity under development with around 7 gigawatts presently in the pipeline. This represents around 40% of the global capacity under development.
Latin America and Africa: Latin America and Africa together account for 4 gigawatts of capacity under development, which is approximately 20% of the global pipeline.
Though the potential and power of geothermal energy is massive, setting up a large-scale plant to harness this energy is not an easy goal. These projects need a lot of money, mostly in terms of drilling wells deep enough in the earth. These wells need to be approximately 5,000 feet below the earth’s surface or more. Scientists are researching ways to make this drilling a more cost-effective process. For instance, a space engineer, Mark Russell is involved in a project that is using rockets to drill holes to harness the geothermal energy. According to Russell, this approach will help to drill 10 times faster as compared to previous attempts.
Most Notable Upcoming Geothermal Energy Projects
Desert Peak EGS: This US$5 million worth project in the Western Nevada is exploring ways to expand the geothermal reservoir that is already being tapped by the Ormat’s Desert Peak geothermal energy plants
Raft River Power Plant: This project is based in Southern Idaho and worth US$44 million. It recently began producing commercial power. This plant boasts a capacity of 10.5 megawatts.
Neal Hot Springs: Oregon has massive geothermal potential and this 26 megawatt project would be first for the state to launch a large-scale geothermal plant. This project is worth US$100 million.
Olkaria IV: This Kenya-based project is expected to reduce the electricity costs in the country by around 50% by early 2015. Olkaria IV is expected to add around 140 megawatts to the national electricity grid.
Sarulla Geothermal Power: This project is based in Indonesia that resulted from the financial deal worth US$1.17 billion between international lenders and Sarulla Operations Ltd. This project once operational is expected to deliver 320 megawatt of sustainable energy.
About Pradhnya Tajne
Pradhnya is a creative and self-driven writer with over seven years of experience. Currently, she works as an Assistant Content Manager, with a focus on the renewable energy domain, for Transparency Market Research. Through her writing, she sheds light on clean alternative energy projects.
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