Geothermal energy has struggled to grow in recent years but remains an area of distinct potential in a world where much of the growth in baseload power demand remains distant from the fuel that could generate that needed energy.
To reflect the interest of power industry officials and investors from around the world in geothermal energy and its potential for diversification, the US Geothermal Energy Association is hosting an International Showcase on May 23 in Washington, DC.
Panels are divided up into regional focuses, ranging from Latin America, East Africa and Asia-Pacific to European development. The presence of international development organizations like the World Bank and the US Export-Import Bank underline both the opportunity for developers and the challenges many still face in installing and profitability operating geothermal baseload power even in regions where fuel can be prohibitively expensive and energy access remains far from universal.
Relying on heat from the earth, geothermal energy is potentially inexhaustible, but the realities of safely and reliably taking advantage of the concentrated steam or heat released can be daunting. Few countries have managed to take advantage of their geothermal resources, even in places like countries in Latin America and other parts of the Pacific Rim where geological activity is high and access to the resource – if not to markets or development funds – is easier.
Iceland is an unusual case of a country with a strong tradition of accessing geothermal energy, leaving it less reliant on fuel imports. A representative of Islandsbanki’s, Executive Director for International Industries Arni Magnusson, will speak alongside representatives from Pratt & Whitney and the German Embassy, as well as Electratherm, about geothermal energy in Europe.
In the US, geothermal energy capacity is concentrated in California, where 4.5% of the state’s electric energy generation came from geothermal in 2007. Smaller geothermal plants also are operational in Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming, GEA says.