Geothermal Energy Projects Skyrocket

According to the “2013 Geothermal Power: Internal Market Overview,” 70 countries are moving forward with nearly 700 projects, rocketing expected global geothermal capacity to reach 12,000MW by the end of 2013.

“There are so many projects moving forward that just a year or two ago were ideas on paper,” says Ben Matek, the report’s author. “This demonstrates how quickly the geothermal industry is growing internationally.”

Highlights of the report include:   

  • There are 11,766MW of new capacity in early stages of development or under construction around the world.
  • Developers are exploring geothermal resource globally that could potentially become power plans within a decade.
  • Chile, France, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda are expected to have their first geothermal plants operating within a few years.

The report also covers a total of 21 countries and five continents. Some of the highlights include:
  • Kenya: Kenya is one of the fastest growing geothermal markets in the world. Kenya’s government is moving a substantial amount of resources into building up its geothermal infrastructure and the support is paying dividends. Right now 296MW of the over ~1,000MW of geothermal under development in Kenya are physically under construction. If all projects are completed on time Kenya will lead the world with substantial additions to their geothermal infrastructure over the next decade and become a center of geothermal technology on the African continent.
  • Indonesia: Despite the massive potential for geothermal power in Indonesia, local experts and the media report that the country still struggles with regulatory issues obstructing geothermal development. That said, Indonesia has almost 4,100MW in the pipeline for development and 860MW physically under construction. Indonesia ranks second for developing projects with 57 projects in some phase of development. While no more plants are expected to come online this year in Indonesia, if all the plants are finished by their publicly announced completion dates, Indonesia could reach almost 2GW of installed capacity by 2018.
  • Costa Rica: Most of Costa Rica’s geothermal resources rest in national parks, leaving substantial regulatory barriers to its development. Despite the location of Costa Rican’s geothermal resource the government plans to introduce legislation that would open the Rincon de la Vieja National Park in Guanacaste for geothermal project development, a controversial proposal to environmentalists. Even so, the country’s top political leaders acknowledge climate change as an issue that will diminish the capabilities of their hydroelectric power plants, which accounts for most of Costa Rica’s energy production.
  • Japan: Since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2012 the Japanese people and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) are looking for clean and disaster-free alternatives to nuclear energy and are deregulating many previous burdensome barriers to geothermal development. Officials are looking to shorten lead time for development, a significant step to accelerated geothermal development.

“In many developing economies there is a growing middle class driving a demand for affordable electrical capacity. In regions such as East Africa and Central America a lack of carbon based fuel resources lead to reliance on high cost/high CO2 emission imported fuel oil. Geothermal provides a preferred indigenous fuel source for a least cost baseload energy supply, providing the much needed increase in capacity. POWER Engineers/Galena Advisors is working in these regions to implement the lessons learned in the world geothermal industry with a goal of providing efficient and cost competitive power plants,” says Mike Long, Vice President, Galena Advisors.“The international markets are continuing to see robust growth and expansion. Established and emerging international markets including Africa, Turkey, Latin America, Indonesia, and the Philippines present a tremendous opportunity for the United States to export renewable technology, professional expertise, capital finance, and geothermal support services to the needs of this global industry,” adds Steve Hummel, director of renewable energy TAS Energy.  “These key foreign markets have played a significant role in TAS Energy’s growth over the past three years with our geothermal technology, and over the past 15 years with our turbine inlet chilling solutions.  We look forward to supporting the continued growth and helping the industry further expand to broader markets.”