Present Status and Future of Geothermal Energy Development
Phillip Michael Wright
Development of geothermal resources for electrical power generation and direct uses (e.g. greenhouse heating, vegetable processing) is accelerating as governments of developing countries increasingly recognize the advantages of geothermal energy and gain confidence in its reliability. Presently, about 2,400 megawatts of geothermal power are on line in the U.S., and about 6,000 megawatts are operating worldwide. Projects to develop more than 3,000 megawatts of power in the Philippines, Indonesia and Central America have been announced by the US geothermal industry during the past two years. Other projects are also being undertaken by geothermal companies or by the governments of developing countries. However, the market for new electrical generation from geothermal project in the US is stagnant as a result of continuing overcapacity and low prices for power generated using natural gas in combustion turbines. An upturn in the US market is predicted around the year 2000.
Geothermal energy can and will supply a significant part of the world's demand for electricity and direct heat in the future. Rough estimates indicate that 80,000 megawatts of power generation might be available from geothermal resource areas presently known but incompletely explored in countries throughout the world. Most of this development will result in electricity costs between 5 and 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, rates which are very competitive with other fuels in most parts of the world.
AAPG Search and Discover Article #91019©1996 AAPG Convention and Exhibition 19-22 May 1996, San Diego, California