Report: Manageable Risks of conventional geothermal systems

snapshot of GEA Report on Risk Mitigation
Alexander Richter 6 Feb 2014

The U.S. Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has just released a report that serves as a great "Factbook on Geothermal Power's Risks and Methods to Mitigate them."

The U.S. Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has just released a report that serves as a great “Factbook on Geothermal Power’s Risks and Methods to Mitigate them.”

The document was prepared for policy makers and the interested public to understand more about geothermal power’s unique risks and about past and current policy and market approaches to address them.

It is intended to be a companion to another GEA report on “The Values of Geothermal Energy” published in October 2013.

For an investor or developer, geothermal projects have significant benefits as detailed in the report from October, but there are also unique risks involved in development. “Many of the unique risks relate to finding, developing and producing from the geothermal resource. The report launched now this week, outlines the risks involved in exploration, drilling, development and operation of a geothermal project and describes past and ongoing efforts by the U.S. and global policies to address those risks.

The analysis provided in the new report, shoudl underscore that policies aimed at incentivizing renewable power for taking a “one size fits all” approach may miss the mark with geothermal investments due to the unique nature of their risk profile.

This paper provides a brief description of the risks associated with primarily conventional hydrothermal geothermal power projects (not primarily Enhanced Geothermal Systems or EGS) and describes shared policy and market approaches intended to address them. Geothermal power projects have very unique development timelines that are substantially different from most, if not all, other energy technologies.

“In the first section, a brief discussion of geothermal power plant economics is followed by a list of the problematic risks that hinder or raise costs of geothermal power, and the second section lists a selection of past and ongoing programs to reduce risk. Finding effective and economical ways to reduce these risks is considered to be the number one way to expand the use of geothermal power globally.”

The report can be downloaded here (pdf)