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GEA International Showcase highlights US challenges and global opportunities

GEA International Showcase 2012, Washington, DC, U.S. (source: Geothermal Energy Association)
Chris Lekkas 12 Jun 2012

GEA held its annual International Showcase at the end of May 2012 in Washington, DC. The Attendees represented a wide spectrum of stakeholders, varying from US and international policymakers to geothermal manufacturers of varying sizes and multilateral institutions.

On May 22nd, over 250 international geothermal industry and policy leaders from 27 countries convened at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC for the GEA International Showcase 2012. Attendees represented a wide spectrum of stakeholders, varying from US and international policymakers to geothermal manufacturers of varying sizes and multilateral institutions. The showcase also served as a valuable forum for bringing public and multilateral officials together with private manufacturers.

United States Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico kicked off the event with a keynote speech covering the challenges of overcoming political gridlock in Congress in order to continue incentivizing renewable energy market growth in the US.

With regards to the US market, the unofficial consensus at the showcase was that until a resolution emerges regarding the status of these tax incentives, the outlook for growth will remain bleak. As Federal Tax Credits are due to expire at the end of 2013, new geothermal projects with long lead times are struggling to move forward. However, John Fox, CEO of ElectraTherm, emphasized that small kilowatt-class manufacturers traditionally overlooked for larger projects can take advantage of this market and take a more active role in helping to meet demand.

The tone for global market growth however was overwhelmingly positive. Speakers from every continent were eager to showcase the progress being made in their respective countries as case studies for attracting further geothermal investment. A healthy enabling environment for investment and business as well as sufficiently incentivizing tax policy measures were a couple key underlying variables consistently found across the board in many of these countries.
Lastly, multilateral organizations also took the time to speak about their role in the market’s development. Pierre Audinet of the World Bank Group spoke about the World Bank and IFC’s track record with geothermal financing, and urged an increased amount of international cooperation and pooling of funds to mitigate risk.