IEA Geothermal Technology Roadmap considers geothermal as one of key technologies

IEA Geothermal Roadmap, published June 2011
Alexander Richter 16 Jun 2011

The International Energy Agency (IEA) releases its Geothermal Technology Roadmap, one of few key energy technology roadmaps being published by IEA.

In its recently published Geothermal Technology Roadmap, the International Energy Agency (IEA) provides its views on geothermal energy as one of the “key energy technologies” to tackle energy demand and decreasing CO2 emissions.

The report talks about that “geothermal energy today is mainly known for its reliable production of base-load power – the power needed to meet minimum demands – in areas where geological conditions permit fluids to transfer heat from the Earth to the surface in self-flowing wells at high temperatures. However, geothermal resources at moderate temperatures can be found in aquifers that are widespread. Such resources can be used in binary power plants, combined heat and power plants or in heat-only applications. Emerging geothermal technologies that extract energy from the hot rock resources found everywhere in the world hold much promise for expanding the production of geothermal power and heat.

This roadmap envisions that by 2050, geothermal electricity generation could reach 1,400 TWh per year, i.e. around 3.5% of global electricity production. Geothermal heat could contribute 5.8 EJ annually by 2050. For geothermal energy for heat and power to claim its share of the coming energy revolution, concerted action is required by scientists, industry, governments, financing institutions and the public. This roadmap is intended to help drive these necessary developments.”

The report has its flaws by looking primarily at EGS overlooking the great potential of conventional geothermal resources for both power generation and heating purposes. It also doesn’t stress out the unique position of geothermal with regards to the combined energy supply, as well as the great potential geothermal could play for individual countries and regions. The International Geothermal Business Coalition, a joint group by several international Geothermal Energy Associations believes that the quoted potential of geothermal providing 3.5% of total electricity supply in the world, is probably not ambitious enough.

The report is available here: IEA Geothermal Technology Roadmap (pdf)