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Over 450 geothermal projects under development worldwide helped by emerging markets, says report

Promising resources in emerging markets and innovative tech are helping to exploit geothermal potential, says Pike Research

Sixty four countries have geothermal projects slated for development, compared to fewer than 30 countries just a few years ago

More than 450 geothermal projects are now under development, according to new research. Although geothermal power projects typically take many years to develop, the geothermal power industry is rapidly expanding beyond its traditional markets, a report from Pike Research in the US.

Promising resources in emerging markets and innovative technology demonstration projects are helping to exploit untapped geographic potential. According to the report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice, a total of 454 geothermal power projects are now under active development worldwide, with surface exploration already underway. Sixty four countries have geothermal projects slated for development, compared to fewer than 30 countries just a few years ago, the study concludes.

“As of the first quarter of 2013, an estimated 18.5GW of geothermal power capacity is in the pipeline,” said senior research analyst Mackinnon Lawrence. “Although a substantial portion of this capacity will never reach fruition, it’s clear that both project developers and investors have recognised the vast energy potential of geothermal resources, signalling a likely expansion in geothermal activity over the next decade.”

Conventional geothermal (hydrothermal) power, representing 90 per cent of the projects identified in the report, exploits naturally occurring pockets of steam or hot water close to the Earth’s surface to generate electricity. Because such conditions are rare, the majority of today’s geothermal power projects are located in rift zones or volcanically active parts of the world where such anomalies are more likely to be present.

Advances in enhanced geothermal system (EGS) technology, which uses deep drilling and injected water to create underground steam reservoirs, could open up new areas to geothermal power projects. According to the report, 252MW of EGS capacity is currently under development across North America, Asia Pacific, Western Europe, and Eastern Europe.

The report, “Geothermal Power Projects”, includes a database covering geothermal power projects targeting hydrothermal, EGS, and coproduction resources. The database lists projects by geographic region and provides key metrics on development stage, resource temperature characteristics, expected project completion date, and total capacity. The goal of this database is to provide the best up-to-date summary of geothermal power projects available globally. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Pike Research website.