A new report reveals the international power market is booming with a sustained growth rate of 4 percent to 5 percent. The “2014 Annual U.S. & Global Geothermal Power Production Report,” finds, released by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) finds that nearly 700 projects are currently under development in 76 countries. Among the key factors for growth, finds the report, are threats posed by climate change and the need for renewable energy sources that can satisfy grid needs.
The report also found that international geothermal market growth was up, while stateside growth held steady; 85 MW of the total global 530 MW of new geothermal capacity in 2013 was in the U.S. However, U.S. growth was flat because of policy barriers, gridlock at the federal level, low natural gas prices and inadequate transmission infrastructure.
“While there was a modest downturn in capacity additions, the Industry Update also underscores the tremendous untapped potential for geothermal energy,” said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. According to the report, the geothermal industry was working on 977MW of new capacity (Planned Capacity Additions or PCA’s) at sites that hold over 3,092MW of power potential in eight western states.
U.S. additions in Utah, Nevada, California, and New Mexico kept the industry on the map domestically in 2013, and future growth looks promising. “The geothermal resource base is still largely untapped,” noted Ben Matek, GEA’s Industry Analyst. “With new initiatives in Nevada, California and Oregon moving to recognize the values of geothermal power, we are optimistic that state policies could spark another period of growth in geothermal power over the next decade.”
In 2013, 25 pieces of legislation in 13 U.S. states were enacted specifically to address geothermal power and heating systems, creating a foundation for the environment needed to foster geothermal growth in these states. Past evidence shows successful policy initiatives have translated into growth; in Nevada, for example, which leads the way as one of the most business-friendly environments, the number of developing projects (45) more than doubles that of California (25).
On a global scale, the report found that there could be a time in the near future when the U.S. is no longer the world geothermal energy producer.