In conjunction with tomorrow’s GEA International Geothermal Energy Showcase 2012, the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has released its latest International Market Overview Report, which finds that the global geothermal power market grew substantially in 2011-12. As of May 2012, there are approximately 11,224 MW of installed geothermal capacity online globally. In 2010, geothermal energy generated twice the amount of electricity as solar energy did worldwide.
The United States, which began the development of utility-scale geothermal energy in the 1960s, remains the world leader with approximately 3,187 MW of installed capacity, but global market growth continues to outpace the United States by a noticeable margin. The United States brought approximately 91 MW of capacity online between 2011 and early 2012.
"It is encouraging to see such widespread geothermal growth, as this baseload energy source has the potential to replace coal and other non-renewable power sources in countries around the world," said Karl Gawell, Executive Director, GEA. "Worldwide, national policies are propelling growth in the strongest markets, but growth in the United States is still hindered by uncertainty about the direction of government policy."
Outside of the United States, countries like Turkey, Kenya and Indonesia continue to show promise for significant geothermal expansion. Turkey has been deemed one of the "hottest" European markets for geothermal, and is the seventh most promising country in the world, with 2,000 MW of geothermal potential. By 2015, the Turkey Geothermal Association estimates that there will be 500 MW of installed capacity online, up from the current level of around 100 MW.
Geothermal is also positioned to play a key role in Kenya’s plans for economic growth. It is estimated that Kenya has at least 7,000 MW of geothermal potential, 202 MW of which has already been developed. At least 14 geothermal sites have been identified for development in the country.
Indonesia, with its rapidly growing economy and increasingly urbanized population, has a whopping 27,510 MW of potential resources, and has set a goal to increase its installed capacity to 5,000 MW by 2025. The report also highlights Central America, the Caribbean and South America as regions with massive geothermal potential.
According to the GEA report, global geothermal energy growth can be attributed to a number of factors, including economic growth, the electrification of low-income and rural communities, new technology, increased energy security concerns and favorable national policies. Nicaragua and Indonesia have both benefited from favorable policy to become strong geothermal markets. Particularly in the United States, unpredictable government policy has slowed growth, but federal agencies such as the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) have all created programs to foster geothermal growth at home and abroad.
"Federal tax credits for geothermal in the United States expire at the end of 2013, making it difficult for many projects with long lead times to move forward in this unpredictable economic climate," Gawell said. "The way to ensure constant and steady industry growth domestically is for Washington to extend renewable energy tax incentives and promote policies consistent with industry needs for sustained growth and technology advancement."
The GEA International Showcase will highlight geothermal projects, policies and development from the world’s key geothermal markets including the Caribbean, Latin America, East Africa, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. The program will encourage interaction and discussion about government policies, projects in development, market potential and opportunities for U.S. companies. Attendees will also hear from U.S. Government agencies involved in export assistance for geothermal companies, and from U.S. companies developing projects overseas.
GEA has confirmed attendance from government and industry leaders representing 27 countries. These countries include Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Djibouti, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nevis, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Tanzania, Turkey, the United States and West Indies.
This week, more than 250 geothermal industry and policy leaders gathered in Washington D.C. for the GEA International Geothermal Energy Showcase 2012. Discussion focused on the international geothermal market, and noted that many countries around the world are "open for business." Representatives from more than 27 countries attended the conference to discuss projects in development, market potential, government policies and global opportunities for U.S. companies. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) provided the keynote address.
In conjunction with the Showcase, GEA released an International Market Overview that found global geothermal growth can be attributed to a number of factors, including economic growth, the electrification of low-income and rural communities, new technology, increased energy security concerns and favorable national policies. Nicaragua and Indonesia have both benefited from favorable policy to become strong geothermal markets. Particularly in the United States, unpredictable government policy has slowed growth.
During his keynote address, Sen. Bingaman remarked: "We need to develop clean energy technologies for the economic benefits that their development will create here at home. As the developing world increases its appetite for energy in the coming decades, there will be a multi-trillion dollar market for clean energy technology. The only losers in the clean energy race will be those who do not compete. Unfortunately, although the U.S. remains one of the greatest sources of innovation in the world, it is not clear if we will reap the benefits of that innovation or even that we will retain the advantage we have over others in that innovation, as our competitors are making a compelling case to investors and entrepreneurs that it is simply good business to develop there, rather than develop here."
"The United States has been the pioneer in geothermal energy, and many of our member companies who participated in the International Showcase today are exporting their products overseas. In fact, geothermal is one of only two American renewables that exports more than it imports," said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. "But now the United States is lagging behind the explosive growth in the international market, credited to favorable national policies. It is critical that U.S. policymakers act immediately to keep the United States competitive with the rest of the world."
Many top U.S. manufacturers, who export a majority of their products and services overseas, also attended the event.
"One of the best aspects geothermal has to offer is that it is very exportable," remarked Halley Dickey, Director Geothermal Business Development, TAS Energy, headquartered in Houston, Tex. "We’re exporting modular systems to companies around the world, we have three projects in Turkey, and we’re exporting services and expertise as well. We build the entire plant here in the U.S. and export it abroad." TAS Energy was the winner of the 2011 GEA Honors award for Technological Advancement, and has geothermal projects on six continents; recent projects are in Oregon, California, Nevada and overseas, including Turkey.
Ernesto Martinez Tiffer, President of the National Electric Company of Nicaragua offered another example of U.S. company leadership by Ram Power, based in Reno, which this year brought online a geothermal project in Nicaragua, and also has projects in California, Nevada and Canada. "Right now the policy of the [Nicaraguan] government is wide open to develop geothermal energy. In Central America, Nicaragua has the largest geothermal potential. We started developing geothermal in 1983. When we ran into problems, Ram Power came in and solved the problem."
"ElectraTherm’s business is approximately 80% export, because of favorable policies, such as feed-in tariffs in Europe," said ElectraTherm CEO John Fox. He continued on to discuss ElectraTherm’s recent co-production project in Mississippi: "ElectraTherm’s Mississippi project was put online in 48 hours, and we knew the ROI to be 7 to 8 years. Therefore, while we are proving our technology in the U.S., we face challenging economics due to lower electric rates and limited policy support. ElectraTherm will target Europe, where the economics are especially attractive and policy support is sizable."
The Showcase was attended by government and industry leaders representing 27 countries, including Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Djibouti, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nevis, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Tanzania, Turkey, the United States and West Indies.
The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) is a trade association composed of U.S. companies who support the expanded use of geothermal energy and are developing geothermal resources worldwide for electrical power generation and direct-heat uses. GEA advocates for public policies that will promote the development and utilization of geothermal resources, provides a forum for the industry to discuss issues and problems, encourages research and development to improve geothermal technologies, presents industry views to governmental organizations, provides assistance for the export of geothermal goods and services, compiles statistical data about the geothermal industry, and conducts education and outreach projects.