6/23/14 – New technology driving geothermal

FierceEnergy, 6-23-2014

Despite high upfront capital costs, geothermal power is the only form of renewable electricity capable of achieving high capacity utilization and supply base load — putting it in a unique market position and allowing it to compete with conventional and non-conventional sources of power generation. Attractive payback periods and zero fuel costs are driving investments in the industry, and the geothermal power generation market is expected to reach $8.9 billion in 2019 — up from $2.5 billion in 2013 — expanding at a CAGR of 23.58 percent from 2013 to 2019, according to Transparency Market Research.

Regulatory initiatives by governments around the world may prove to be both drivers and restraints for the market. Policy frameworks such as feed in tariffs, renewable energy certificates, renewable purchase obligations by utilities and soft loans for geothermal resources development are major drivers for the industry. However, strict environmental protection laws, land ownership laws and ground water pollution control regulations may hamper development in the sector, according to the research.

Nevertheless, the geothermal market is seeing significant changes in terms of technology adoption. Transparency Market Research expects to see older technologies such as dry steam that require high temperature resources lose market share, while newer and more efficient technologies such as binary cycle exhibit high rates of market penetration. Flash plants account for majority market share in terms of global installed capacity; however, Transparency Market Research predicts flash plants to lose market share due to the impact of binary cycle power plants.

The geothermal power generation market is fragmented in nature, with no single market player occupying a large market share. However, smaller companies pool resources through strategic alliances and joint ventures in order to pursue aggressive geothermal asset acquisition and development strategies, which could lead to a wave of industry consolidation in the near future, the research predicts.