4/4 Geothermal Showcase Highlights Growing Global Industry
By Allie Nelson, originally published by Geothermal Energy Association Weekly news.
Extensive global interest in geothermal development was echoed at the 2016 International Geothermal Showcase in Washington, D.C.,held on March 16th. This is a premier event for networking, collaborating, and spreading awareness of geothermal developments both national and abroad. With dynamic panelists discussing topics from regional projects to financing to new technologies, presenters shared their knowledge to an audience of over 200 attendees, representing 40 countries spanning the globe, indicative of geothermal’s wide appeal and immense international potential.
The Showcase closely followed the December 2015 launch of the Global Geothermal Alliance (GGA), which brought together 40 countries and 26 implementation partners united by an ambitious goal to increase installed geothermal capacity sixfold by the 2030s. GGA’s goal was discussed by keynote speaker Deputy Director-General of IRENA, Sakari Oksanen. Oksanen believes geothermal will prosper and that in order to “combat climate change – [we] must scale up geothermal development.”
According to Oksanen, geothermal has a major role to play in the growth of the renewable energy sector. He stated the unifying challenge was installing 5 GW internationally per year: “Growing by 5 GW per year calls for collective action.” The Global Geothermal Alliance will spearhead this, as “geothermal energy is a key part of the sustainable energy future.”
Tim Williamson representing the US Department of State announced that the GGA’s Draft Action Plan would be available for public input in the next few weeks. GEA will help circulate the draft to those interested in constructive input.
Senator Dean Heller (R-Nevada), a champion for geothermal energy in the U.S., gave rousing remarks. Heller harbors a vision of geothermal’s future: “I want to see the day Reno is powered only by geothermal and solar energy. I want to make sure that my grandchildren will never have to put another dollar into a gas pump.” He also promised to work this year to enact into law a long-term incentive for geothermal comparable to that recently provided solar. “It will be a priority,” the Senator said.
At the showcase, the major stakeholders of the geothermal industry were represented, from development banks to developers to IRENA and the UN Energy Program. Panelists shared their expertise with talks focused on exciting geothermal developments, new opportunities in the international market, innovative technology like Enhanced Geothermal Systems, and dynamic investment sources that could fund the future of the geothermal industry.
One highlight was a presentation by Paul von Hirtz of Thermochem, who covered geothermal in Indonesia, which currently has 1400 MW of geothermal installed and operating, 750 MW coming online, and 2450 MW under late planning stages. Indonesia has the largest geothermal potential of any nation, and 4640 MW will be installed in the next few years. By 2024, Indonesia is on track to generate 550 TWh/year, making it the nation with the world’s leading planned geothermal capacity, surpassing the current leader – the United States.
Another rising star of geothermal is Kenya, an African renewable energy leader represented by Albert Mugo of KenGen, whose company has experienced great success in Olkaria. Still, Mugo said there was still a wealth of untapped energy: “Across the Kenyan Rift Valley, there is a huge geothermal potential estimated at over 10,000 MW – we have only explored 10%.” Mugo’s statement echoed the theme of the showcase: developers, investors, and governments working in tandem to accelerate international geothermal development, moving the Global Geothermal Alliance’s goal of sixfold geothermal growth by the 2030s even closer to reality.
Participants were generally positive about the Showcase experience. “It was a great networking event,” one said. “It hit on the major topics and markets in one day,” commented another.
GEA will be making final presentations available to paid participants shortly, and following that will make them available to paid GEA members. A detailed recap of GEA events follows.
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