ocean energy

Global geothermal capacity grows 20% in last five years

Geothermal power is growing rapidly across the globe, according to a new report by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA). “Geothermal Energy: International Market Update” found that between 2005 and 2010, the United States retained its leadership in production with most MW installed, while Germany was the fastest growing geothermal power producer.

According to the report, the countries with the greatest increase in installed capacity (MW) between 2005 and 2010 were: (1) US - 530 MW, (2) Indonesia - 400 MW, (3) Iceland - 373 MW, (4) New Zealand - 193 MW, and (5) Turkey 0 62 MW. In terms of percentage increase the top five countries were: (1) Germany - 2,774%, (2) Papua-New Guinea - 833%, (3) Australia - 633%, (4) Turkey - 308%, and (5) Iceland - 184%.

While there was an overall 20% growth in geothermal power on line between 2005 and 2010, seventy nations currently have projects under development, a 52% increase in just the past three years. 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, compared to 11 now actively working to produce geothermal power.

Technological advances and policy support

In these two regions, policy and geothermal development showed evidence of working favourably together to stimulate growth, the report concluded. "In 2010, 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," according to GEA. "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 and the geothermal initiatives of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development supported by European Union climate policies," the report stated.

"The question appears to be whether the policy and financial support for geothermal development will be sustained over time and increased to meet the needs of future stages of development," noted Karl Gawell, GEA's Executive Director.

Geothermal development also appeared to be trending beyond traditional hydrothermal reserves prevalent along the Ring of Fire. With development of low-temperature power and enhanced geothermal technologies, the geothermal market is expanding to encompass the world’s nations.

This is especially true among European countries, notably France, Germany, Latvia, and the United Kingdom, all of which are currently exploring and developing local resources by employing EGS. These developments are supported by government policies (such as feed-in tariffs), which make higher-risk and higher-cost projects more feasible and are typically components of broader climate initiatives.

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