Ed’s note: Time to turn up the heat on geothermal

Image credit: esi-africa.com

I was pleased this week to see the launch of a new company that plans to develop geothermal power projects around the world.

Geothermal always plays second fiddle to wind and solar in discussions about deploying more natural resources, yet harnessing the Earth’s heat is as natural as capturing the Sun’s rays.

And geothermal power was around long before anyone erected a turbine or stuck a PV panel on their roof. It delivers a significant chuck of electricity in countries as diverse as El Salvador, New Zealand, Kenya, the Philippines and Iceland ” where it also provides more than 90% of heating demand (yes, that’s not a typo ” 90%).

It’s not weather-dependent and has very high capacity factors, making it suited for baseload power, as well as ancillary services for short and long-term flexibility.

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Yet its global electricity generation rose by only around 3% in 2019, below the average growth of the five previous years. The International Energy Agency has flagged this as under-performing and has called for policies to tackle the challenges associated with pre-development risks, which it asserts will lead to greater deployment.

There are, however, positive signs. Indonesia is a country that has identified geothermal as a key contributor to its renewables targets and ambitions. It currently has almost 2GW of installed geothermal power and has plans in place to develop an additional 4.6GW ” all backed by a $150 million World Bank loan designed to scale up investments in geothermal energy. (Check out the feature in our latest magazine issue to read more about geothermal in Indonesia).

And positive too was this week’s news of the new company created by Thermal Energy Partners and Schlumberger New Energy (read the full story here).

Geothermal energy has been simmering for a long time. It’s time for more governments to turn up the heat.

Until next time,

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