Although wind and solar energy steal most of the headlines, geothermal energy is enjoying significant growth. The past five years have seen accelerated geothermal development in countries like New Zealand, Indonesia and the US. But geothermal is also growing in new markets including countries like Australia and Germany.
We have seen growth in conventional hydrothermal resources in volcanic regions, but we have also seen growth in Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) projects in non-volcanic regions. Technological innovations have facilitated the expansion of geothermal into areas with lower temperature, restricted water access, and constrained surface utilisation. The US currently has six active EGS developments.
According to Roland Horne, President, International Geothermal Association, “Future expansion depends on exploring for new fields and overcoming technical challenges in known but not-yet-exploited fields. Two issues that are currently being addressed by the world geothermal community are:
(1) the ‘productivity gap’ in the exploitation of fields that are too hot for downhole pumps, but too cool for flash production; and
(2) the development of reliable EGS development procedures that can ensure sustainable flow rates and assure the public that induced seismicity will not be a problem.”