Geothermal Energy: Underused Source of Clean Energy?

Geothermal Energy: Underused Source of Clean Energy?

During 2013, the installation of geothermal energy increased by 3% and the year ended with a total of 11,700 megawatts of installed capacity in more than 24 countries. Although other renewable energy technologies have grown much faster and thus wind energy has grown at a rate of 21% annually since 2009, and the solar energy

During 2013, the installation of geothermal energy increased by 3% and the year ended with a total of 11,700 megawatts of installed capacity in more than 24 countries.

Although other renewable energy technologies have grown much faster and thus wind energy has grown at a rate of 21% annually since 2009, and the solar energy at the rate of 53% per year, 2013 was the best year for geothermal energy from the financial crisis 2007 – 2008.

The reason for the relatively slower growth of geothermal energy is not the shortage of usable sources. On the contrary, the top layer of the Earth’s crust to a depth of ten kilometers contains 50,000 times more energy than the world’s oil and gas reserves. However, in contrast to the relatively simple measurements of wind speed and solar radiation, test drilling to assess the depth of thermal resources that precede the construction of geothermal power plants are highly uncertain and expensive. The investor also can spend up to 15% of the capital costs for appraisal drilling, with no guarantee of finding the right location.

But once built, the geothermal power plant can produce energy 24 hours a day with low operating and maintenance costs. During their life cycle geothermal power plants costs are very competitive in comparison to other energy sources, including fossil fuels and nuclear power.

The three countries with the most geothermal power plants are the United States, the Philippines and Indonesia, and together occupy more than 50% of the geothermal energy. Despite the fact that the United States has the most installed geothermal power plants, the country meets less than 1% of total energy needs from this source. Iceland is in this category in the first place and uses geothermal energy to meet as much as 29% of energy needs. In second place is El Salvador, covering 25% of energy needs from geothermal power plants, while in third place is Kenya with 19%.

The most ambitious targets in the future development of Indonesia certainly has that by 2025 plans to build 10,000 MW of geothermal power plants. Thus, in June this year they started construction of 330 MW geothermal project in northern Sumatra, which should be completed and start producing electricity in 2018.

Indonesia is the only one of 40 countries that could almost cover all energy needs by using geothermal energy. On this list are Ecuador, Ethiopia, Iceland, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines and Tanzania. But since most of the resources located in developing countries that do not have the considerable resources dedicated to research geothermal sources, the World Bank in 2013 launched the Global Geothermal Development Plan and as early as December of the same year collected 115 million dollars (500 million from the set) which will be designed to detect and test drilling of geothermal wells in developing countries.

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