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18 Jan 2016 07:01:55

Global Geothermal Power Generation Market Benefits from Green Energy Movement; Affordability, Sustainability Drive Market

The global geothermal power generation market was valued at US$2.5 bn in 2013. In many regions of the world, geothermal energy is being tapped into as an affordable and sustainable solution to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels, which is in line with the green energy mantra of the present times. Using geothermal heat pumps, this energy can be trapped either to use directly or for power generation. By the end of 2013, geothermal energy capacity was more than 11,700 megawatts (MW) globally, with another 11,700 MW planned capacity addition underway.

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Due to such initiatives for the utilization of geothermal energy, the market will expand at a phenomenal 23.58% CAGR from 2013 to 2019 to be valued at US$8.9 bn by the end of 2019.

What is Driving Geothermal Power Generation?

Geothermal energy is the heat obtained from hot water, shallow ground, and hot rock present a few miles beneath ground level, as well as from molten rock called magma that is deep in the Earth’s crust.

Apart from its renewable energy characteristic, geothermal power is the only source of renewable electricity that can attain baseload supply and high capacity utilization. This has been the reason for geothermal power to be recognized at par with conventional sources for power production.

Some of the factors driving the global geothermal power generation market are favorable policies such as tariff feeds, easy obligatory certification, and soft loans for the development of geothermal resources. However, stringent environment protection mandates, land ownership laws, and regulations to keep a check on groundwater pollution are some of the factors hampering the market’s progression.

Evolving Technology Trends in Geothermal Power Generation to Supersede Older Counterparts

The global market for geothermal power generation is divided on the basis of technology and geography. Steam, flash steam, and binary cycle are the technology segments that geothermal power generation plants have been using traditionally. Nevertheless, adoption of novel technologies is an emerging trend and is likely to continue in the coming years.

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Currently, flash steam power plants account for the largest share in terms of installed capacity figures. Nonetheless, flash steam power plants will lose their market share to binary cycle power plants due to the higher economic value of energy generated from the latter. In a binary cycle power plant, a heat exchanger is utilized with a lower boiling point secondary fluid. This facilitates these units to generate power from low-temperature resources maintaining process efficiency as well.

The North America market has been registering an increased share in binary cycle technology over the past few years; since 2007, most geothermal power units have been utilizing this technology. The U.S. is a matured market for geothermal power generation. Depleting resources and the use of geothermal energy over a long period of time are the reasons for this.

Europe is also a mature market for geothermal power generation in comparison to other regional segments in this market. Countries such as Iceland and Italy depend on geothermal resources for a substantial part of their energy needs.

However, in Asia Pacific, geothermal power generation is nascent. In spite of leading in installed capacity, the geothermal resources in the region are yet to be explored and developed for their value. The Rest of the World has a similar position in geothermal power generation.

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