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Pike Research forecasts global geothermal power capacity could more than double by 2020; US to lead world in geothermal power capacity through 2020

Escalating investment in geothermal power could result in a 134% increase in global geothermal capacity between 2010 and 2020, from 10.7 gigawatts (GW) to 25.1 GW, under a high-growth forecast scenario, according to a report by Pike Research. Under a more conservative business-as-usual forecast scenario, Pike estimates that geothermal power capacity could increase 34% to 14.3 GW by 2020.

The current installed capacity of 10.7 GW is spread across 26 countries with a combined output of approximately 67 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity. Currently, the United States is the global geothermal leader with 3.1 GW of installed capacity, and seven countries represent 88% of the world market. While conventional geothermal resources account for nearly all online capacity today, enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) and co-produced wells both offer opportunities for expansion outside of rift zones or volcanically active regions throughout the world, according to the study.

Recent DOE geothermal funding
On 23 September, the US Department of Energy (DOE) finalized a loan guarantee of up to $350 million for a 113MW geothermal power generation project sponsored by Ormat Nevada, Inc. (Earlier post.)
Subsequently, two geothermal energy projects led by researchers at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) were selected to receive funding from the US Department of Energy•s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
One NETL project that will improve capabilities for predicting the behavior and performance of fracture networks in enhanced geothermal systems. NETL will partner with Penn State, West Virginia University, and the University of Pittsburgh in the 2-year effort.
In the second award, researchers from NETL, Oregon State University, and Zonge International will collaborate to develop a novel, low-cost method for monitoring and assessing the effectiveness of enhanced geothermal systems to ensure reservoir longevity and efficiency.
The study will apply recent developments in advanced geophysical techniques—including high-resolution gravity surveys, repeat electromagnetic imaging, and a portable, millimeter-resolution, ground-based radar system—in combination with geologic and geochemical analyses, to monitor a reservoir under controlled production and recharge conditions. The integrated process will give well-field operators information necessary to identify the location of reservoir flow-pathway restrictions, reservoir temperature variations, and key geochemical information to determine if a flow blockage is related to mineralization, allowing them to develop customized and targeted responses to mitigate the issue.
The integrated process will give well-field operators information necessary to identify the location of reservoir flow-pathway restrictions, reservoir temperature variations, and key geochemical information to determine if a flow blockage is related to mineralization, allowing them to develop customized and targeted responses to mitigate the issue.

Pike Research’s high-growth forecast scenario assumes a continued increase and persistent volatility in the price of oil, tightening carbon regulations, improved access to capital, standardization of geothermal exploration data, contribution from EGS-enabled and co-produced resources, technological breakthroughs in exploration and drilling equipment, improved access to drills and skilled labor, and sustained policies supporting renewable energy mandates, grants, and tax subsidies.

Pike forecasts that total US geothermal capacity will reach 4.2 gigawatts (GW) in 2020, a 36% increase from the 2010 level and significantly more than any other country. That would represent almost 30% of total worldwide geothermal power capacity of 14.3 GW in 2020.

Asia Pacific will achieve the highest capacity among world regions, with 5.9 GW of geothermal power—41% of worldwide capacity. Under a more aggressive growth forecast scenario, Pike says, total worldwide capacity could reach 25.1 GW by 2020.

Geothermal remains an underutilized resource, representing only a small fraction of the global renewable energy portfolio today. Currently the vast majority of capacity is concentrated in just seven countries, but additional support from global financial markets and enhanced regional cooperation by institutions such as the World Bank and ARGeo, in Africa, will drive the development of new capacity in promising markets such as Kenya, Indonesia, and Turkey.

—Pike senior analyst Mackinnon Lawrence

The world’s total installed geothermal capacity in 2010 was 10.7 GW. Pike Research estimates that, at a minimum, 190 GW of conventional geothermal resource—equivalent of 225 to 250 nuclear power plants—are exploitable using current technology. While conventional geothermal resources account for nearly all online capacity today, enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) and co-produced wells both offer opportunities for expansion outside of rift zones or volcanically active regions throughout the world.

Pike Research’s report, Geothermal Power, analyzes the global market opportunity for electricity production from conventional, EGS, and co-produced geothermal resources. The study includes an examination of market drivers, existing and emerging technologies, the public policy and regulatory environment, and key industry players. Global market forecasts, segmented by geography, extend through 2020 and include profiles of key countries actively developing geothermal power projects.

Comments

HarveyD

With only 5% of the potential developed, this clean energy source could supply enough power for over 27,000,000 BEVs and be available on a 24/7 basis.

Engineer-Poet

Both "conventional" and "enhanced" geothermal systems are effectively mining a stored resource of heat which is not renewable in less than decades. The long-term viability of these schemes is not good.

Dollared

E-P, given that the most important element of carbon reduction is getting rid of coal, and given that baseline load maintenance is the most critical application that gives coal a market advantage, wouldn't exploiting 1) conservation plus 2)geothermal as a baseline load to balance 3) solar and wind power be a very, very good strategy to cut our carbon output a great deal in a ten year span? It seems like an ideal transitional technology.

Engineer-Poet

We've gotten ourselves into a situation where our major energy sources for both transportation and electric generation are depleting on a time scale of a few decades. I fail to see how the substitution of geothermal, which depletes at least as fast, helps matters.

The USA has several hundred years' worth of uranium sitting in warehouses, waiting for FBRs to use it. We have similar resources of thorium. We can continue by mining either or both of these at a rate very low compared to recent history. That's a technically easier path than geothermal; the only problem is politics.

HarveyD

The only (major) problem is PEOPLE resistance, NOT politics.

It should be easier to sell safer/cleaner thorium reactors but they are not ready yet.

ExDemo

A doubling from next to nothing will still result in next to nothing.

That is what you get when know-nothing eco-fools presume to do any scientific engineering. Geothermal is limited by satisfactory sites, and sufficient thermal reservoirs. But it is really hindered by the hot and very corrosive thermal fluids that destroy the Plants in a short time.

ExDemo

EP,

Your understanding of energy sources is out-of-date.

Oil supplies, recoverable with today's technology, is about 2 trillion barrels in America, 2 trillion in Canada, and 2 trillion in South America. I won't speak for Eurasia at all.

By comparison all of the mid-East has about 1.2 trillion barrels of recoverable liquids. So supplies have expanded at least six fold if not more . If supplies lasted 50-100 years under old reckoning, it is now 600-1000 years today.

Plus liquid fuel energy use in the advanced societies is declining everywhere, as IEA reports, as the hard effort to improve efficiency is bearing fruit. No one has declined from 21 million barrels /day to 18 million barrels/day over the past decade, but all developed countries are using less every year. This offsets in large part the increased demand from the new tigers of China and India.

But Fusion is no longer "...50 years away and always will be". ITER is half constructed in Cadarache France. It is like the early prototype fission power reactors in the late fifties. In a lot less than a score of years, commercial reactors were being constructed everywhere. The next fusion reactor after ITER will add power to the grid; and had there been satisfaction with the very low service factor of so-called renewables, ITER itself, could produce power more frequently, and more power, than any renewable Solar or Wind installation.

But unlike fission, that demands the very best safety technology to control a potential runaway, Fusion is fail safe, and that makes all the difference. If something goes wrong it just stops. That will make its spread much faster.

Engineer-Poet
No one has declined from 21 million barrels /day to 18 million barrels/day over the past decade
You don't even define your terms. Are you talking about consumption or production? (Mexico is on track to become a net importer soon, as Indonesia already has.) The USA went from 20.8 mmbbl/d consumption in 2005 to 18.7 in 2009.

The stuff you say is "oil", isn't oil. Neither is your 2 trillion barrel figure realistic, at least not in the USA. That's counting the pore-trapped oil in the Bakken (not recoverable except by mining and crushing) and "oil" shale, which isn't economical with any technology yet demonstrated. These things aren't "supplies" (reserves) if you can't produce them at a price anyone can afford.

Canadian tar sands aren't oil either; a lot of processing is required to produce even a synthetic crude that refineries can handle, which is expensive in both hardware and energy.

If you expect to go back to the days of $25/bbl oil, you're in for a big disappointment. You're also going to be disappointed if you expect fusion any time soon. The inherent difficulties of keeping things together under bombardment by gram quantities of 14.7 MeV neutrons are not going to be dispelled by the breeze from your handwaving.

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