Geothermal is something of a dark horse when it comes to renewable power generation. This is due largely to its limited availability, which is primarily in the vicinity of tectonic plate boundaries. It also has high upfront costs for exploration and drilling.
Today geothermal energy is known to have potential in nearly 90 countries. Of these countries only 24 are producing geothermal electricity, corresponding to approximately 6% of the estimated over 2TW global geothermal power potential.
In total the geothermal installed capacity is about 13GW, contributing less than 0.3% of the global energy mix, with the largest users being the United States and China.
Given that geothermal is a proven clean energy technology without the intermittencies of wind and solar, and once developed is a low cost source, it would make a valuable addition to the power mix of host countries as well as contributing to an increasingly renewables powered world.
In order to advance geothermal a new Global Geothermal Alliance has been launched by 38 countries and over 20 development and industry partners. The goals are to achieve a 500% increase in global installed capacity for geothermal power generation and a 200% increase in geothermal heating by 2030.
“Geothermal has proven its potential to be part of both the global climate and energy action agenda,” commented Adnan Z. Amin, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which facilitated the initiative. “While geothermal can provide baseload power at some of the lowest costs for any power source, it remains under-developed. The Global Geothermal Alliance will provide a platform for partners to share best practices, further reduce costs and get the most benefit out of this sustainable energy resource.”
Scope of activities
The Alliance will act independently from national agendas, with governance by a committee of representatives of the members.
The Alliance will aim to overcome the barriers to geothermal development by mitigating risks, promoting technological cooperation, coordinating regional and national initiatives and facilitating geothermal energy investments into energy markets.
A work programme will be formulated covering four areas of activity:
● Platform for dialogue, cooperation and coordination with a view to creating synergies and avoiding duplication of efforts in geothermal energy related interventions
● Partnership for action to improve the mitigation of exploration, drilling, investment and operation risks through support such as advisory services and promotion of geothermal energy investments
● Capacity building support to all key stakeholders in areas including policy, regulation, technology and finance
● Outreach and raising awareness to achieve greater visibility of geothermal energy in the global energy and climate change debates, as well as of its benefits.
In order to advance individual and institutional learning from past experiences with a view to further improving procedures and identifying promising avenues for future activities, the Alliance will develop an elaborate monitoring and evaluation system.
Regions and countries with the greatest geothermal potential include Europe, Central America, East Africa, Japan and Australia. [Engerati-Geothermal Energy Development in Africa Heats Up and Japan’s Government Guarantees Debt to Develop its Geothermal Potential]