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ABSTRACT: Circum-Pacific Geothermal Energy Use in 1990

William L. D'Olier

Geothermal energy utilization in Pacific Ocean nations is conveniently measured by installed electrical generating capacity in gross megawatts (MW). Better perception of comparative achievements and outlook in 1990 is obtained by separately considering California's large Geysers installation of 2044 MW. On this basis, the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, and Nicaragua have approximately 1630 MW of geothermal electric power established. In the western Pacific, the Philippines, New Zealand, Japan, and Indonesia have approximately 1470 MW of power generation. Geothermal energy now provides about 3% of the electric power supply in California and Mexico and 8% in the Philippines.

The 1990s will see continued growth of geothermal electric power especially in the Philippines and Mexico, which are pushing beyond existing capacities of 890 and 700 MW, respectively. Costa Rica has substantial initial geothermal power capacity under construction. In California a development surge closed the 1980 decade with 240 MW of new capacity at Coso Hot Springs and 242 MW of additional capacity in Imperial Valley. The U.S, geothermal industry is now contending with a constrained power market and negative impacts of overdevelopment at The Geysers. However, several U.S. geothermal companies now qualified in integrated resource development, electrical generation, and marketing are advantageously positioned for the next opening in the power market.

Where sound production, injection, and reservoir management are practiced, geothermal reservoirs are supporting reliable, high performance electric power generation. New technologies are further reducing geothermal's low environmental profile, particularly minimizing emissions to atmosphere. Geothermal energy utilization should continue its steady growth in the Circum-Pacific during the 1990 decade.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90097©1990 Fifth Circum-Pacific Energy and Mineral Resources Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii, July 29-August 3, 1990