Geothermal power generation growing worldwide

Wind expert and overall renewables guru Paul Gipe pointed out to me this weekend a new report from the Geothermal Energy Association, which has assessed worldwide growth of geothermal development since 2000 and expected growth to 2010. It found a significant increase in the number of megawatts expected to be produced and the number of countries producing them from geothermal heat resources. “The number of countries producing geothermal power and total worldwide geothermal capacity under development appear to be increasing significantly in the first decade of the 21st century,” according to the report. “The number of countries producing power from geothermal resources could increase 120 per cent, from 21 in 2000 to as many as 46 in 2010. Total geothermal capacity online could increase over 55 per cent, from 8,661 megawatts in 2000 to 13,500 megawatts or more.”

The report, which provides a snapshot of geothermal activities on a country-by-country basis, concludes that overall geothermal development appears to be accelerating, and that this is a reversal compared to the slowdowns that were seen in international markets in the late 1990s. No doubt, more countries are seriously exploring geothermal as a clean alternative to power generation as concern about climate change grows. As mentioned previously, this resource is a prime candidate for replacing natural gas in the Alberta oil sands, and perhaps down the road in providing power in other provinces (I know at least one serious developer who has scouted a couple of potential sights in Ontario). “It is worth noting,” the report continues, “that in numerous cases discussed in this report, the success of development in a country is linked to government policies and initiatives. The extent of future geothermal project development would appear to depend more upon adequate funding and sustained policy support than geologic factors.”

My emphasis added. This is exactly why the public and our elected politicians need to put pressure on our federal and provincial governments to seriously study the geothermal option and craft policies that would optimize its use in Canada. Ignoring this valuable resource is irresponsible, to say the least.