Thursday, April 14, 2011

Geothermal will be key for an optimal energy mix

One of the myths about geothermal energy is assumption that its price is not competitive. Several analyses showed that construction of geothermal power plants is not profitable. A main finding found in recent times is the fact that its price is comparative to other energy sources. That is the reason why geothermal energy can be a key player in a 2050 non-carbon energy scenario
Things must change if Europe is to reach its energy decarbonisation objective, and that will not be possible without a substantial contribution from geothermal energy”, said Dr. Burkhard Sanner, President of EGEC during geothermal energy conference GeoPower 2010. His words are supported by comparison of geothermal energy with other sources of energy. “Providing a renewable base load, geothermal energy does not have external costs such as storage, grid infrastructure or waste management. Conventional geothermal power is already a most competitive energy source, but only possible in certain regions. EGS (Enhanced Geothermal Systems), a breakthrough technology successfully demonstrated, will allow a geothermal development anywhere in Europe. EGS will become competitive within a few more years”, added Sanner.

One of the main advantages of geothermal energy is its load factor.  It is the average power produced by certain power plant divided by the peak power, over a period of time. In comparison with other energy sources, geothermal energy has the highest load factor which reaches 95%. Very disappointing are load factors of currently supported renewables such as solar or wind energy. Their load factors reach less than 25%.

To sum up, geothermal energy has the best features to become a baseload energy source for next decades. “Geothermal will be a key player in an optimal energy mix”, added Sanner. We can add that to reach this aim is necessary to strengthen the support to geothermal research and development.

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