Geothermal energy has grown globally but stalled in the U.S.

February 26, 2015 0 By Tami Hood

Worldwide, geothermal power met with some success, last year.

According to a preview from the Geothermal Energy Association’s (GEA) latest annual report, for the third consecutive year, the geothermal industry expanded by about 5 percent overall and reached 12.8 gigawatts (GW), with global capacity additions put at 620 megawatts (MW).

The U.S.-based GEA would have liked to have seen even half of the global growth rate in the United States.

In spite of being the world leader in geothermal energy, due to a boom in the country in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the renewable resource remains a small player in the United States. Currently, the U.S. has about 3.5 GW of installed capacity. However, when compared to other green energy, like solar and wind, growth in this specific renewable sector has not been rapid in recent years.

That being said, while the U.S. has not experienced much growth, the GEA reported that the nation did add an additional 3.5 MW of geothermal capacity in 2014. A plant in Southern Oregon was responsible for 2 WM or the energy and a plant at the Oregon Institute of Technology made up the additional. 1.5 MW.

However, when compared to other renewables, this amount of installed capacity pales in comparison. For instance, last year, wind power in the U.S. grew by almost 5 GW. Meanwhile, although the official total for solar has not been released, it is estimated to be around 6 GW.

Geothermal energy growth has stalled in America due to zero demand for new power.

According to the GEA, America’s “growth in geothermal power has stallegeothermal energy industry growthd due a lack of demand for new power, meaning a lack of new power purchase agreements, and mixed messages from Washington D.C.” in regard to tax incentives for investment in geothermal production.

However, while the U.S. geothermal industry continues to crawl along as the governments throw more support behind other forms of cheaper alternative energy, such as solar power, internationally, geothermal’s ability to provide raw baseload power has made it a prime choice in developing countries, especially Kenya.

Geothermal energy also saw strong growth last year in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Turkey, and is expected to evolve in Latin America in upcoming years.

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