In 2011, the geothermal industry continued to build upon the growth of the last decade.
Over the past year, increased activity in the areas of resource, technology, workforce and policy development have positioned the industry for increased growth in 2012. As the industry looks towards the new year, the Geothermal Energy Association has identified the top tends and accomplishments of 2011 that the industry will build upon in the upcoming months.
“Geothermal energy is an extremely important element of a successful renewable and sustainable future in the United States,” said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. “The progress made by geothermal in 2011 was substantial, and we look forward to continued growth in the year ahead.”
Recent Growth and Future Expansion of Geothermal in the US: Geothermal energy development has been growing in the US since 2005. From four states in 2005, the geothermal industry now has power plants and small power units operating in nine states. Geothermal power production will increase in the years ahead. GEA expects to see a number of geothermal projects coming online in 2012 and 2013.
Geothermal energy production is increasing: Prospects for the future growth of geothermal energy in the US are strengthened by the increasing number of companies engaged in geothermal resource development. Roughly half a dozen firms were actively involved prior to 2005, whereas there are now almost 20 companies developing and operating geothermal power projects in the US.
New and Innovative Technologies: In addition to bringing power plants online, the geothermal industry is maturing in a variety of other ways. New R&D efforts are introducing innovative technologies into the industry. Federal funding to develop new exploration and drilling, mineral recovery, and low-temperature technologies will also expand the global resource base and pay dividends for years to come.
Geothermal education developments: New groundbreaking workforce education programs are providing young professionals with the skills they need to contribute to the future growth of the geothermal industry. In the summer of 2011, the University of Nevada, Reno hosted the first National Geothermal Academy, an 8-week intensive course introducing graduate and undergraduate students to all aspects of geothermal development. Additionally, Truckee Meadows Community College initiated a program that trains students to become geothermal power plant operators.
Congressional Support: Policies at the federal and state level will continue to support geothermal development. The federal tax credit continues through January 1, 2014, and state climate and renewable laws continue to promote the purchase of clean, geothermal power. Most recently, the Senate Energy Committee passed the Geothermal Technology and Expansion Act of 2011, which would create a federal loan program for geothermal exploration drilling. The Senate Energy Committee also passed the Geothermal Production Expansion Act of 2011, which will expedite the leasing and development of geothermal resources on federal land. California continues to press forward with its climate law, AB 32, and geothermal energy is expected to play a key role in meeting its goals.
“Congress’s support of geothermal will help the industry grow and invest in research and development,” Gawell added. “Not only will Congressional support help to create more geothermal projects, but it will also create more jobs in the United States.”
Number of US Companies Involved in geothermal is increasing: US firms will continue to be involved in the world geothermal market, supplying goods and services to a range of countries. US companies export to countries on all major continents. With strong support from the Renewable Export Initiative, this will continue to grow.
International Growth: Worldwide geothermal production will continue to thrive as well. At least 24 countries currently produce geothermal power, and with new projects under development on nearly every major continent, the geothermal industry is poised for increased global growth. US companies export geothermal goods and services throughout the world, and with strong support from the administration’s Renewable Energy Export Initiative, the US industry’s position as an international leader will flourish.
On January 18, the conversation will continue when GEA convenes the geothermal community along with the world’s top technology leaders and venture capitalists at San Francisco’s Marriott Marquis for GEA Geothermal Energy Finance Forum 2012. The event will explore opportunities in geothermal, create a networking dialogue between the finance and investment communities of the East and West Coasts, and offer a tutorial on geothermal energy investment with top experts and major players in geothermal development and finance. Keynote speakers will include Anne Simpson of CalPERS and Karen Douglas from the California Energy Commission. Event partners for the Forum are American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), the Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) and the California Geothermal Energy Collaborative (CGEC) as well as sponsors SNC-Lavalin Thermal Power, GeothermEx, Geothermal Resource Group, and Pratt & Whitney Power Systems. For more information or to register, please visit: http://www.geo-energy.org/events/finance_forum_2012.aspx.
About the Geothermal Energy Association:
The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) is a trade association composed of U.S. companies who support the expanded use of geothermal energy and are developing geothermal Resources worldwide for electrical power generation and direct-heat uses. GEA advocates for public policies that will promote the development and utilization of geothermal Resources, provides a forum for the industry to discuss issues and problems, encourages research and development to improve geothermal technologies, presents industry views to governmental organizations, provides assistance for the export of geothermal goods and services, compiles statistical data about the geothermal industry, and conducts education and outreach projects. For more information, please visit http://www.geo-energy.org/. Check out GEA’s YouTube Channel. Follow GEA on Twitter. Become a fan on Facebook..