Friday, September 2, 2016

Iceland example shows cost-competitiveness of geothermal energy

Over the years Iceland has become something of a synonym for geothermal energy. This renewable energy source with vast potential is still in its infancy in many countries of the world while Icelanders are the ones incapable to imagine the life without geothermal energy and are very proud about their geothermal energy heritage.

Geothermal energy does not only provide electricity for Iceland, it is also used for heating purposes and is responsible for their lowest heating costs of all the countries in the Nordics.

Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, all these countries have bigger heating costs compared to Iceland. According to one of the recent studies heating costs in Helsinki, capital of Finland, are five times higher compared to Iceland's capital Reykjavik.

In Reykjavik, the annual cost of heating for a 100 square meter apartment is $724, while in Helsinki the annual heating costs rise to $3,623.

Around 90% of all households in Iceland use geothermal energy for heating. With enough available resources this renewable energy source represents not only clean and environmentally friendly energy source, it is also cost-competitive, and even cheaper compared to conventional energy sources.

Other Nordic countries mainly use fossil fuels for heating purposes. The difference is huge, but on the other hand not all countries have the luxury of having such abundant geothermal energy resources at their disposal like Iceland does. In any case, in areas with significant geothermal resources, geothermal energy certainly deserves its chance to blossom, from both environmental as well as financial point of view.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Canada needs to make more of its vast geothermal resources

According to Canadian Geothermal Energy Association Canada's "geothermal energy potential is estimated at over 5,000 MW in traditional shallow geothermal resources with currently available technology. Altogether, this level of geothermal energy production could create approximately 8,500 operations and maintenance jobs as well as 20,000 part time construction jobs. 5,000 MW of baseload geothermal power is also able to displace an equivalent amount of coal fired power which would yield more than 25 mega tonnes (Mt) of offset CO2 emissions per year."

The richest geothermal energy resources in the country are found in the Western and Nothern Canada. However, despite this enormous energy potential Canada still has nothing to show for as there is still zero megawatt geothermal energy production status.

Given vast riches of geothermal energy resources Canada should be at least in the top five geothermal energy countries in the world but Canadians are still far off from making their name heard on global geothermal energy map.

Ten years of studying geothermal energy resources in the period from 1975 to 1985 was only a precautionary measure due to the energy crisis which has done nothing to help kickstart geothermal energy industry in Canada.

With the climate change issue lurking above the entire world and as the clean energy race gets into higher gear, Canada should consider geothermal energy as one of the safer renewable energy bets.

Geothermal energy industry needs help from the government and there is still no regulatory pathway to operating geothermal let alone tax benefits and other incentives given to other sectors.

Perhaps something will change as there seems to be a better public awareness about geothermal which should also force increasing government interest. Canada needs to make more of its vast geothermal resources and become one of the top geothermal producers in the world.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Cheap and renewable-Is geothermal the right solution for Kenya?

African countries are power hungry. Many people in Africa still lack access to electricity. Kenya, a country with 45 million people, still has two thirds of population without the access to electricity. Even country's capital, Nairoby, has frequent power cuts.

Is geothermal energy the right solution for Kenya - not only to provide stable supply for electricity but also to become the most important source of renewable energy in the country?

Africa's Great Rift Valley is definitely among the best areas in the world in terms of geothermal energy potential, and Kenya could be one of the countries to have great benefits from it.

In ideal scenario, Kenya could even become global geothermal leader because the potential is immense. There are several sites scattered throughout the Rift Valley which have an estimated potential of more than 10,000 megawatts.

Kenya already produces respectable 609 MW of geothermal power, which ranks it in the top ten geothermal power producers, at the eight place.

The country's geothermal power plant Okaria is the largest geothermal plant in Africa, located 75 miles northwest of Nairobi.

Hydropower is still the most important source of renewable energy in the country with the production of 820 MW in 2015. Hydropower is affected with droughts, that are becoming more frequent, and thus country must rely on other sources of energy.

Kenyan government sees geothermal energy as the perfect renewable energy source for years to come. The so called "Vision 2030" plan has its main aim in achieving 5,000 MW from geothermal energy in 2030 which would make geothermal energy primary energy source in the country and turn Kenya into one of the global geothermal energy leaders.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Tanzania should give geothermal energy a chance

There are several African countries with excellent geothermal potential. Geothermal is together with solar the most talked about renewable energy option in Africa.

One of the African countries with excellent geothermal potential is Tanzania.  Tanzania has abundant geothermal resources with recent official estimates going at around 5,000 MW of geothermal power capacity, with 50 potential areas across the country.

The regions with the biggest geothermal potential in the country include the Northern Zone, comprising Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Mara regions; the Southern Zone with Rukwa and Mbeya regions, and the Eastern coastal belt.

It has been reported that Tanzania would be able to produce 200MW from geothermal by 2020, with the help of Public-Private Partnership arrangements.

There are several foreign companies interested in geothermal energy development in Tanzania. The government will have to create better conditions for foreign investments by creating better business environment by adopting progressing renewable energy policy.

The Minister of Energy and Minerals Prof. Sospeter Muhongo, has already directed the Tanzania Geothermal Development Company (TGDC) to start drilling in the area of Lake Ngozi by June 2016.

On global level, geothermal power developments are estimated to total $7.99bn in 2016.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Geothermal energy sector needs better promotion

Solar and wind usually take all the spotlight when discussing the potential clean energy alternatives for fossil fuels. Geothermal energy, despite being very reliable clean source of energy is usually regarded as low tier energy alternative. What geothermal energy sector needs is better promotion on global scale.

This is where Global Geothermal Alliance should step in and make the difference. This alliance, which was funded in 2014, consists of 36 countries, and has a main goal of strengthening the geothermal industry's skills base.

Global geothermal energy production grows approximately three to four percent per year but this is still only a tiny fraction of total geothermal potential. There is much more room for global geothermal energy industry to grow and become one of the leading industries in clean energy sector.

Global Geothermal Alliance recently stated that "geothermal energy development particularly in developing countries, faces important challenges. Due to risks related to geological drilling during the exploration phase, along with the associated costs, financing the early stage of the process is limited to investors that understand and accept the possible associated risks."

Exploration and drilling costs still provide major obstacle to spreading geothermal energy industry in new parts of the world. New technologies will have to be developed in order to reduce high upfront costs of new geothermal energy projects.

Global Geothermal Alliance was funded in September, 2014 at the summit organized by UN secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The alliance is hopeful to achieve a five-fold growth in the installed capacity for geothermal power generation and at least two-fold growth for geothermal heating by 2030.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Oil wells can help geothermal energy development?

Geothermal energy is renewable energy source with massive potential but sadly the use of this renewable energy source on global scale is still minuscule,  way below solar and wind, and light years from fossil fuels. This is mostly because of the high drilling costs.

Can this high drilling costs somehow be avoided? Well, there is even a potential solution in which oil and gas drilling can help the global geothermal energy development, and even reduce high drilling costs.

The concept is really quite simple, namely every single barrel of oil also brings out several barrels of boiling hot water which can be used to generate electricity through geothermal turbines. Many oil wells, from all around the globe, contain hot water at the adequate temperatures for geothermal power production.

For instance, famous Denver basin, where oil and gas have been produced from 1901, was said to have the highest capacity for large-scale, economically viable geothermal power production.

Oil prices have been fairly low which resulted in drilling and oil field services companies cutting thousands of jobs as they try to reduce their operational costs. These jobs could go to geothermal power production instead.

Some companies, like Hungarian MOL Group have already been testing systems that pump scalding-hot water present in the oil well through equipment that uses the heat to turn electricity-generating turbines.

The potential is certainly there. Technology and science have to do the rest. 


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Geothermal heat pumps growing in popularity

Geothermal heat pumps have been lately growing in popularity, mostly because of high oil and electricity prices. Many energy analysts expect strong growth of geothermal heat pump market.

The new research paper by Transparency Market Research forecasts 13.1 percent compound annual growth rate of global geothermal heat pump market from 2014 to 2020,and should reach the worth of $130.5 billion by the end of 2020.

The closed loop systems are still the preferred option and hold the biggest share of the market, even despite the fact that open loop systems are highly efficient.It is because open loop systems are reliant on the accessibility to groundwater reserves and there are regulations regarding the usage of groundwater reserves which hamper the spread of open loop geothermal heat pump systems.

North America and Europe lead the global geothermal heat pumps market, despite the recent popularity in some Asian countries. Asian market is expected to grow significantly in years to come, while Europe is already experiencing slight decline in new installations.

China is the largest contributor to the geothermal heat pumps market in Asia. The Chinese are exploring different renewable energy options, with geothermal energy being one of them.

Geothermal heat pump systems are very reliable. It is not just their reliability that gives them the edge over traditional heating systems. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called ground source heat pumps "the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective space conditioning systems available."