New Geothermal Potential and Commitments, International Investments Rise

Teresa Jordan

Map displaying results of Geothermal Fairplay Analysis

Image Credit: Prof. Teresa Jordan

Source: Cornell Sun

In this post:

*Washington, D.C. Heats up as 2016 International Geothermal Showcase Approaches
*Poland Seeking Geothermal Alternatives as Wind Farms Clutter Landscape
*Researchers Discover Three Regions in US with High Geothermal Potential, West Virginia Included
*Philippines Receives Funding for Geothermal and Other Renewables
*Exergy Wins 2016 European Geothermal Innovation Award

Washington, D.C. Heats up as 2016 International Geothermal Showcase Approaches

Things are heating up in the nation’s capitol: registrations have spiked for what is to be the year’s premier international geothermal showcase, with representatives from 37 countries spanning the globe convening in Washington, D.C. this March to attend GEA’s 2016 International Geothermal Showcase.

The Showcase will feature a dynamic mix of industry professionals with worldwide geothermal expertise. Senator Dean Heller (R – Nevada) will be the keynote luncheon speaker and the event will also feature Sakari Oksanen, the International Renewable Energy Agency’s Deputy Director-General, to deliver opening keynote remarks.

With a comprehensive agenda, participants can anticipate speakers from countries who constitute the rising stars of the geothermal industry, including nations like Kenya, represented by KenGen’s CEO Albert Mugo, and Japan’s Hiroto Kamiishi, Director of the Energy and Mining Group at JICA. Countries attending run the gamut of continents from the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu to Qatar in the Middle East.

For more information including registration, confirmed speakers to date, and a tentative agenda, visit

To register for the International Geothermal Energy Showcase, please visit the following website:

Poland Seeking Geothermal Alternatives as Wind Farms Clutter Landscape

Facing pressure to reduce their dependence on coal, Poland intends to invest in geothermal energy resources over wind farms that many consider eyesores, according to the country’s Environment Minister Jan Szyszko.

The majority of electricity in Poland is produced by coal-powered power plants. However, under new EU rules, the nation must generate 15% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, an approximate 3% increase from the current 12% levels.

In efforts to follow these regulations, previous Polish governments constructed biomass energy sources while subsidizing the creation of wind farms, but Szyszko stated that the majority Law and Justice party (PiS), elected last October, was opposed to wind farms:

“Geothermal energy will definitely be the priority of this government. In this we see a chance to meet the air quality norms in big urban conurbations… The situation is completely different with wind farms. Wind farms destroy the landscape arrangement, are alien to Polish cultural heritage and harmful to natural reserves.”

The current government, which has fielded criticism from opposition politicians and the media for apparent intervention in the economy since coming to power, announced in December that it was considering a ban on constructing wind farms close to houses, a move the industry said could block new investment in renewable energy sources.


Researchers Discover Three Regions in US with High Geothermal Potential, West Virginia Included

The Cornell Daily Sun recently featured a joint research effort focused on finding new areas of geothermal potential, noting that not only can geothermal resources be used to generate electricity, but that they are suitable for heating homes and buildings, as a supporting factor in industrial processes, or even included in novel ventures like geothermal greenhouses.

“For this direct-heat approach, much lower temperatures are needed, which greatly expands the areas for which it might be cost effective,” said Cornell Professor Teresa Eileen Jordan, an expert on earth and atmospheric sciences. “District heating systems using geothermal heat exist in hundreds of communities in Europe, as well as in Boise, Idaho.”

A recent joint study between Cornell University, Southern Methodist University and West Virginia University, supported in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, was performed to assess several areas for high geothermal potential.

“If all locations have some degree of potential, but achieving the potential to extract energy will be much easier (including lower cost) in some places than others, then the DOE wanted to have guidance on where to invest its time and energy to conduct research and assist with development,” Jordan explained.

The study’s results highlighted locations in West Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania economically and geologically situated to harness geothermal energy.

The joint study made the assumption that intended use of the discovered energy resources would be district heating systems, via which homes receive hot water through a set of interconnected pipes. Due to cold winter temperatures and large populations, a high heating demand exists throughout New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and geothermal heating could provide economic advantages and reduced carbon emissions if it replaced fossil fuel usage.

The study formed part of DOE’s Geothermal Play Fairway Analysis and examined the pertinent questions that an interested party would have when deciding whether to invest in geothermal energy like drilling depth needed, natural conditions with favorable thermal factors, and earthquake risk, among other issues.

Of particular interest is West Virginia, a region dominated by the coal industry. Below West Virginia lays the largest geothermal network on the US’s East Coast, according to the study. The study’s cientists have estimated the state is located above several hot spots belowground, with some blazing as hot as 200 degrees Celsius, or approximately 400 degrees Fahrenheit, according to

The magazine stated that this untapped potential energy source is only a little more than 3 miles below the Earth’s surface. “If engineers are able to tap the heat, the state could become a producer of green energy for the region,” the magazine theorized.

West Virginia’s resources are mostly Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) regarding electricity production instead of the traditional hydrothermal plants which are constructed in the western portion of the United States.

New data from Southern Methodist University predicts EGS geothermal resources in West Virginia would total around 1 to 6 GW of EGS. Based on Union of Concerned Scientists’ data, the overall capacity of U.S. electricity generating plants in 2012 was approximately 1,100 GW.

GEA’s Benjamin Matek, industry analyst and research projects manager, remarked that geothermal fields in California have generated energy for close to 50 years and some in Europe have produced energy for over a century. In contrast, geothermal plants are more popular in Europe than in the United States, where hydropower, solar, and wind dominate.

Geothermal plants are “built in Europe but the Europeans have a friendly business environment for projects like this. They offer a really high FITs (a type of design) for geothermal power because of its

Matek stated that geothermal’s biggest benefits for West Virginia would be health benefits and better air quality. Geothermal power could take the place of fossil fuel facilities megawatt for megawatt, producing the same around-the-clock baseload power without harmful emissions, lowering asthma and health problems for people who live in the plant’s vicinity.

“In some places in Africa, Japan and Costa Rica plants are actually built inside national parks with no or little adverse impacts on the wildlife, park or air quality,” Matek elaborated. He estimated that the cost would be about the same, generally around $4,000 to $6,500/kilowatt: “I would expect a plant in West Virginia would be on the upper end of that range… Plants usually sign PPAs (Power Purchasing Agreements) between 17 cents and $1.10 cents/kWh in the west.”

West Virginia’s hidden geothermal potential is an exciting surprise: SMU’s geothermal expert and geographer Maria Richards told Science magazine that “Nobody expected West Virginia to show up as a hot spot.”


Philippines Receives Funding for Geothermal and Other Renewables

>The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently made public its first-ever bond initiative to bolster geothermal energy in the growing Philippines market. The ADB aided in the establishment of a local-currency bond valued at $225 million, topping a direct loan of $37.7 million, in order to foster the regional development of geothermal facilities. ADB, who possesses headquarters in Manila, committed in 2015 to doubling its financing for climate change. This newly created bond forms the first renewable initiative of its kind in Asia.

“The transaction is highly innovative, representing the first project bond ever issued in local currency in the power sector,” managing director at the Bank of Philippines, Reginaldo Cariaso, remarked in an official statement.

The island nation’s goal is to boost its renewable energy capacity in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. In 2015, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries stated that the Philippines was among several regional economies predicted to form the bulk of growth in new oil demand. Thinking forward to a sustainable future, the Philippines government established a goal of bringing online approximately 2,870 MW of renewable energy capacity by 2030.

The ADB signed a $20 million finance assistance agreement last year with local EDC Burgos Wind Power Corp. and an international consortium of banks to facilitate the construction of the company’s 150 MW wind farm on the northern island of Luzon. ADB explained that the bonds would offer an appealing alternative to bank financing for long-term renewable energy investment in the Philippines.


Exergy Wins 2016 European Geothermal Innovation Award

Exergy was recently named the winner of the 2016 European Geothermal Innovation Award at the opening session of the GeoTHERM exhibition and Congress in Germany, presented by the European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC). The honor was awarded for the 2-pressure-level cycle on a single-disk turbine at work in the Denizli Tosunlar geothermal plant, Turkey. Exergy placed above strong completion from four other endorsed nominees.

EGEC president Dr. Burkhard Sanner said “The winner, Exergy, and the closest runner-up, Turboden, are both active in the field of electric power production from low-temperature geothermal sources. In a power market influenced more and more by variable renewables like wind and sun, the dependability and flexibility of geothermal power is badly needed, elaborating that “the improvements in efficiency and flexibility achieved will directly increase the chances for geothermal projects to become economically viable in a changing market environment”

Upon receiving the award, Anthony Hinde, International Marketing and Sales Director at Exergy, statd that “Exergy is delighted to be the Winner of the European Geothermal Innovation Award 2016, recognizing the efforts of the whole team in designing and the implementing the world’s first 2-pressure level ORC cycle on a single turbine.”

“This unique Organic Rankine Cycle turbine has opened up the possibilities for previously uneconomic projects to be commercially viable, by greatly increasing the efficiency possible in small, low enthalpy geothermal power plants. Our first 2-pressure unit has been in operation for almost one year and the performances have surpassed expectations and relevant guarantees.”

“Exergy had previously been a finalist for this award in 2014, and are now delighted to be taking home the first prize. The repeat nomination reflects Exergy’s constant innovation, where our dynamic team is always seeking new solutions. We are currently working on a number of further innovations and look forward to being back in 2017 to show Europe and the world how the Organic Rankine Cycle market can continue to evolve increasing efficiency in an economically viable way.”

The European Innovation Award, currently in its third year, is a joint initiative between the EGEC and Messe Offenbourg. The honor is presented each year to companies that have, in EGEC’s words, “made an outstanding contribution towards the field of geothermal energy in the form of innovative products, scientific research or project initiatives.”


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