Geothermal Power The Next Big Clean Energy?

It seems like solar, wind and ocean wave energy advances are getting all the attention recently. That’s not terribly surprising  when stories of ship-towing kites and 136-foot tall ocean generators are hitting our desks. But there’s another energy source in the global renewable energy portfolio that is grabbing its share of attention…and funding. According to a recent study by Pike Research,  geothermal energy is where it’s at. The study shows that geothermal power capacity could more than double over the next nine years.

The report, aptly named “Geothermal Power” , looked at the global market opportunity for electricity production from both existing and proposed systems as well as co-produced geothermal resources. Pike’s “high-growth” forecast (also read: pretty optimistic) indicates that geothermal energy capacity could increase by a staggering 134% in the next nine years. A more conservative scenario still suggests considerable growth at a 34% increase over the next 9 years.

CPUC Geothermal

image via Ram Power

The disparity between the two scenarios probably comes from a variety of unstable variables that were taken into consideration such as market drivers, existing and emerging technologies, the public policy and regulatory environment, and key industry players. In the case of the high-growth forecast, Pike wagered on factors like continued increases in the price of oil, tightening carbon regulations and improved access to capital among other considerations.

“Even if progress falls short in these areas,” said Pike, “the potential for geothermal market expansion remains strong, and even our conservative business-as-usual forecast is consistent with growth rates observed in the industry since 1990.”