Geothermal power is considered to be a key element in future renewable energy supply. For conventional geothermal power costs are likely to drop from 7 cents/kWh to about 2 cents/kWh. A new type of energy development called ‘Enhanced Geothermal Systems’ presently have high figures (about 20 cents/kWh), but electricity production costs - are expected to come down to around 5cents/kWh in the long term, depending on the payments for heat supply. These price drops assume a global average market growth for geothermal power capacity of 9% per year up to 2020,adjusting to 4% beyond 2030.
Geothermal energy has been used since the beginning of the last century for electricity generation, and even longer for supplying heat from below the earth. New intensive research and development work is widening the potential of sites that could be used to produce power. Particular new developments include large underground heat exchange surfaces (Enhanced Geothermal Systems - EGS) and the improvement of low temperature power conversion, for example with the Organic Rankine Cycle.
The economics of geothermal electricity will also be improved by advanced heat and power cogeneration plants and further development of innovative drilling technology is expected.
Geothermal energy has a non-fluctuating supply and a grid load operating almost 100% of the time. Until now we have just used a marginal part of the geothermal heating and cooling potential.Shallow geothermal drilling could deliver heating and cooling at anytime anywhere, and can be used for thermal energy storage.
employment in geothermal energy
Geothermal could see a significant jump in the proportion of the world’s energy supply, nearly triple under the Energy [R]evolution in 2030, compared to the Reference scenario. This would correspond to triple the amount of jobs, around 60,000 in 2030.
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