The global geothermal power market continued to grow forward according to the 2016 US and Global Geothermal Power Production Report released today by the US Geothermal Energy Association. With an operating capacity of 13.3 GW in 24 countries, the market had new capacity under development in 82 countries. This new capacity would add 12.5 GW of new power capacity, approximately doubling current output.
“Globally geothermal power is trending up, but the US market outlook is clouded due largely to federal and state policies that either don’t recognize the value of geothermal power or don’t treat it with parity”
Overall, 2015 was a promising year for geothermal in the US and abroad, crowned by the launch of the Global Geothermal Alliance during the Paris Climate Talks in December, in which dozens of developed and emerging nations committed to geothermal development. The United Nations and IRENA pledged a five-fold growth in the installed capacity for geothermal, supporting the prediction that global geothermal capacity could reach 32 GWs by the early 2030s if countries follow through on geothermal investment and development pledges. The new geothermal market report, the Global Geothermal Alliance and more will be hot topics at the US and International Geothermal Showcasebeing held at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center on Thursday, March 17.
Some of the rising stars of the geothermal industry include Kenya, which generates half of its electricity from geothermal power, and Indonesia, whose island archipelago harbors the world’s largest geothermal potential. Still, only 6-7% of the world’s estimated geothermal potential is being harnessed.
The U.S. had approximately 3.7 GW of installed nameplate capacity by the end of 2015, bringing online a total of 70 MW. An additional 1,250 MW was under various stages of development. Despite legislative challenges like on-again, off-again tax incentives, several new laws passed in 2015 could create new opportunities for geothermal companies operating in America, such as a 100% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in Hawaii, a 50% RPS in California, a 50% RPS in Oregon and the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan, under which states may choose to develop their geothermal resources as part of their compliance options.
“Globally geothermal power is trending up, but the US market outlook is clouded due largely to federal and state policies that either don’t recognize the value of geothermal power or don’t treat it with parity,” noted Karl Gawell, GEA’s Executive Director.
According Ben Matek, author of the report, “global growth could be stronger, but permitting delays and trouble obtaining financing have slowed construction. But, as climate change looms and the global community becomes increasingly aware of the benefits of renewable energy, geothermal power could emerge as a significant and reliable electricity producer, well-suited for many regions of the world as a reliable baseload power source.”