Reuters: “Geothermal market poised to erupt”

Alexander Richter 3 Jun 2009

In recent article, Reuters talked about the big potential for geothermal energy and estimates an "eruption of the geothermal market".

In an article yesterday, Reuters talked about the big potential for geothermal energy and estimates an “eruption of the geothermal market”.

Referencing the recent allocation of stimulus money to research and development in the U.S., the author talks about that wind and solar power have been the rapid growers in the U.S. renewables market, but that “geothermal power awaken from its dormant state to become the fastest growing renewable resource.”

The article goes on crediting that “the federal government is driving much of the renewed interest in geothermal through loans, research funding, and streamlining the permitting process.”

“Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service are working together to streamline permitting for new geothermal projects on federal lands. The BLM has also opened four new offices in the west, where most of the geothermal power is located.

Geothermal has the advantages over wind in that it doesn’t great alter the visible landscape, and power generation is much more consistent than intermittent wind power. However, wind power generation in the U.S. nearly doubled between 2005 to 2007, while geothermal power has been stagnant, producing slightly less power in 2007 than in 1997.

In 2001, we produced twice as much geothermal power as wind, but now it’s half of wind power.

The companies that produce renewable power will greatly benefit from the government’s financial support. U.S. Geothermal just announced that the DOE is reviewing its application for an $85 million loan to build a geothermal plant Neal Hot Springs project in eastern Oregon.

Geothermal company Raser Technologies is using the momentum to obtain money to grow. On Tuesday the company registered with the SEC to offer securities to raise up to $150 million.

The expansion of geothermal won’t happen overnight as research is needed to improve the technology so that it can be cost competitive in more locations. As part of the geothermal energy package, the Obama administration has allocated $80 million for research. Also, it can take up to several years to site, receive the necessary permits, and build the power plants. So look for things to really heat up in 2011.”

So it seems like geothermal is now getting the attention of the media and that is a good thing. The industry needs every attention it can get and needs it to attract much needed investment in the sector. The major part of the development cost of geothermal projects will still have to be covered by equity sponsors.

Source: Reuters