Expensive geothermal needs to become more attractive

Unless more money is pumped into research and development, geothermal technologies won’t be able to provide cost effective electricity for at least 20 years. According to senior experts, the only […]

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By Tom Gibson

Unless more money is pumped into research and development, geothermal technologies won’t be able to provide cost effective electricity for at least 20 years. According to senior experts, the only reason it will compete with other energy sources is because the price of energy will rise to meet it.

The International Energy Association say that global energy demand is set to rise by 50% in 25 years, and as a result, members of the geothermal community are still confident the resource can make an impact. The IEA recognises that with the right investment, 10% of global energy demand can be met by geothermal by 2050.

Chris Bromley, a geothermal consultant with GNS Science and the Chairman of the IEA Geothermal Implementing Agreement said it could be much higher: “The global potential is 1100 exajoule per year, which is twice what we actually use now.” In 2008, total worldwide energy consumption was 474 exajoules.

Speaking at the Engineered Geothermal System Energy event in London speakers said that deployment is hugely reliant on reducing cost and improving that cost relative to other renewables. Milou Beerepoot, a senior Analyst at the IEA said: “We’re not likely to see widespread geothermal for a few years- funding and R&D has to go someway first. We’re still in the demonstration phase.”