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GEA Sees ‘Substantial’ Growth in Geothermal Market

Leon Walker

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The international geothermal power market is booming, and the US could soon lose its status as the world leader in geothermal energy production, according to a report from the Geothermal Energy Association.

For instance, the US has about 1,000 MW in the pipeline and 3,400 MW nameplate capacity for a total of 4,400 MW. Meanwhile, Indonesia has 4,400 MW of planned capacity additions announced in the pipeline alone, according to the 2014 Annual US & Global Geothermal Power Production Report.

In terms of established nameplate capacity, the US still outpaces the Philippines (1,904 MW in 2013) and Indonesia (1,333 MW), the world’s second and third ranked geothermal energy producers.

The report finds almost 700 projects currently under development in 76 countries.

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 US, according to the new GEA report. US growth was flat because of policy barriers, gridlock at the federal level, low natural gas prices and inadequate transmission infrastructure, according the the GEA.

However, US additions in Utah, Nevada, California, and New Mexico kept the domestic industry “on the map” in 2013, and future growth looks “promising,” according to the GEA.

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), the report says.

In 2013, the GEA released, 2013 Geothermal Power: International Market Overview. That report expected that by the end of 2013 the global geothermal market is expected to operate 12,000 MW of geothermal capacity on-line. Countries such as Uganda, France, Tanzania, Chile, and Rwanda have geothermal projects under construction or in the latter stages of development and will have their first operational geothermal power plants within the next few years, the report said.



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