Geothermal Power Generation Market - Zero Fuel Costs Make Geothermal Power an Attractive Area of Investment in the Near Future

This research is designed to estimate, analyze and forecast the market volume and revenue for the global geothermal power generation market. It provides in-depth analysis of the market size of geothermal power in terms of volume (installed capacity) and revenue (investments in the sector for adding capacity).


Albany, NY -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/15/2016 -- Geothermal energy is energy derived from heat present in the earth's crust. Geothermal energy is used for two primary purposes: power generation and direct use. This study deals extensively with the use of geothermal energy for power generation purposes. Geothermal power generation involves conversion of water into steam using heat present in the earth's crust. It also involves the subsequent rotation of turbine to generate electricity. The geothermal power generation market is poised to expand significantly in terms of installed capacity and overall investment. Geothermal power generation is renewable in nature and can supply base load demand. This enables it to benefit from both conventional and unconventional power generation methods. Significantly high capacity utilization and non-intermittent supply coupled with low emission levels and zero fuel costs make geothermal power an attractive area of investment in the near future.

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Three primary technologies are used to generate geothermal power: Dry steam, flash steam and binary cycle power plants. Currently, the market is witnessing significant changes in terms of technology adoption. This trend is likely to continue in the near future. Dry steam plant is the oldest technology. It requires high temperature resources for efficient generation of geothermal power. Flash steam plants accounted for a major market share in terms of overall installations globally. Flash steam power plants are further segmented into single flash, dual flash and triple flash power plants. Binary cycle power plant is a relatively new technology. Such plants utilize a heat exchanger with a secondary fluid that has a lower boiling point. This enables binary cycle power plant plants to maintain high efficiencies and generate power from lower temperature resources. As geothermal resources in the world deplete, these plants are likely to grab significant market share in the near future. Technologies such as Solar-Geothermal Hybrids or Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) are still in the initial phase of market penetration. These plants provide highly efficient and sustainable power generation; however, these are still highly expensive and do not generate power at grid parity levels.

The market share for binary cycle power plants has been increasing in North America; this technology has been used in most capacities added since 2007. However, other regions do not reflect the technology trend witnessed in North America. The U.S. market has matured due to waning resources and exploitation of geothermal energy over a long period. This drives the need for adoption of the binary cycle technology. The market in Europe is also mature in nature, with countries such as Italy and Iceland deriving a substantial part of their overall electricity requirements from geothermal sources. Although leading in installed capacity on the regional level, Asia Pacific still has significant unexplored and undeveloped geothermal resources. The same pattern is reflected in Rest of the World (RoW). Low rate of resource development and strong government initiatives towards renewable energy generation would boost the market in these regions. Growth in Europe is likely to be significant as well; however, it would be led by a few major countries.

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Law and policy frameworks prove to be a boon as well as bane for this particular industry. Laws mandating renewable energy purchase standards for utilities and feed in tariffs promise higher returns for investors. Strong foreign investment policies and frequent soft loans extended by major banks have boosted investor confidence in this industry. However, on the other side, laws such as environment protection mandates, land ownership laws and water protection laws are negatively affecting the growth of the sector in certain countries. Nonetheless, these issues are likely to be resolved in the near future. Although geothermal power generation demands high upfront capital requirements, short and attractive payback periods along with zero fuel costs enhance returns post commissioning. Costs incurred for the establishment of power plants are divided into exploration costs, drilling costs, surface facility costs and actual power plant manufacturing costs.

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Individual cost components are likely to vary significantly from region to region. Costs incurred to set up binary cycle plants are high vis-à-vis flash steam plants. The overall investment in the sector is anticipated to rise at a high rate due to escalating material, labor and drilling costs and increasing capacity additions in the near future. Regionally, Asia Pacific has the highest installed capacity, while the U.S. has an installed capacity higher than any other country. Flash steam power plants accounted for majority share (>50%) in terms of global installed capacity, followed by dry steam and flash steam plants, respectively, as of 2012. Ormat Technologies occupied the major market share in terms of installed capacity, followed by Energy Development Corporation (EDC), which operates only in Indonesia. This trend was followed by most market players, with concentrated operations in a particular country or region only. However, major market players are gradually expanding their geographical base of operations through aggressive acquisition of geothermal assets in other countries and regions.

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