IRENA highlighting geothermal’s role for food security and heating & cooling

IRENA highlighting geothermal’s role for food security and heating & cooling H.E. Olafur R. Grimsson at the GGA, IRENA meeting, Jan. 2019 (source: IRENA)
Alexander Richter 14 Jan 2019

During a recent meeting of the Global Geothermal Alliance during the IRENA events of its General Assembly, the important role of geothermal for food security, but mainly for heating and cooling was highlighted by several speakers.

During the 9th General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), a side event by the Global Geothermal Alliance provided a great opportunity to share notes on ongoing dialogue and cooperation of the different partners to the Alliance.  With the initial concept of the alliance introduced at the Climate Summit gathered by the UN Secretary-General in September 2014, the Alliance was launched a year after at COP21 in Paris as a global platform for enhanced dialogue, cooperation and coordinated action among policy-makers and key geothermal stakeholders. The Initiative currently brings together 46 members and 35 partner institutions.

The Alliance, coordinated by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), has the aspirational goal to achieve a five-fold growth in the installed capacity of geothermal power and to double the share of geothermal heat by 2030. The initiative seeks to realise this, amongst other things, through customised advice and exchange of insights and experience among key stakeholders.

With the important role geothermal energy can play in the global energy transition, the event in Abu Dhabi last week particularly highlighted the great role geothermal energy can play in the heating and cooling sector, but also provided details on the latest geothermal activities undertaken by IRENA, including inter alia on geothermal applications for food production and preservation. IRENA has also partnered with government and institutions to support the application of international guidelines for geothermal resource classification and regional capacity building programmes.

We previously reported on an event by IRENA and the GGA on food security and the role of geothermal. Following the event during the Iceland Geothermal Conference in May 2018, IRENA has now released a report “Accelerating geothermal
heat adoption in the agri-food sector – Key lessons and recommendations”. The report can be downloaded here (pdf).

IRENA further reported on a successful Regional Workshop on Geothermal Financing and Risk Mitigation in Africa with Kenya, Japan, and African Union, that took place in February 2018 in Kenya, its regional engagement in Latin America, and the Geothermal resource classification project with IGA and World Bank – ESMAP.

In a theme setting presentation, Haukur Hardarson, CEO of Arctic Green Energy presented his company’s work on geothermal district heating in China and the important role of heating and cooling in the climate change debate and the role geothermal energy can play, not only in the supply of affordable and sustainable energy supply, but also clean energy to help tackle air pollution and thereby improving the health of urban populations. More on this in a separate article.

In 2019, IRENA will work on a study and capacity building activities on Geothermal Energy Applications for District Heating and Cooling in the Urban Setting.

In the following discussion round, representing the International Geothermal Association, I highlighted the important role of geothermal for electricity production in large parts of the world and the important role for heating and cooling. Iceland’s former President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson once again passionately made a plea for further geothermal development, highlighting the crucial role in cleaning up the heating and cooling sector.

We thank IRENA for the ongoing support of geothermal energy and in particular Salvatore Vinci – Head, Partnerships and Technical Advisory Services, Gorbuz Gonul, Director for the Country Support and Partnerships Division at IRENAand Luca Angelino – Programme Officer, Global Geothermal Alliance.