Central American countries seek to bring geothermal to the forefront of future energy development plans
1,500 kilometres long, Central America’s volcanic arc consists of hundreds of volcanoes — from sky scrapping stratovolcanoes like Guatemala’s 4,202 metre Volcán Tajumulco, to crater lakes like El Salvador’s Ilopango — the very ground of this ocean-separating, continent-connecting, ribbon of land, moves.
The region’s unique geothermal activity is the result of what geologists call subduction: one tectonic plate, the Cocos Plate, moving under others, the Caribbean and North American plates, forcing earth, magma, and heat to the surface. While this does result in life-threatening earthquakes and volcanoes, the geothermal heat released provides a largely untapped energy that the region’s countries are now resolved to harness. Continue reading Geothermal, a Hot Topic in El Salvador→
Tapping into the earth’s heat to produce geothermal energy offers the world enormous benefits. Proven resources exist in nearly 90 countries, but 90% of it still remains underground. For this reason, IRENA hosted a high-level workshop during COP21 to discuss the potential of this promising source of renewable energy, and ways to overcome the barriers which hold it back.
First some good news:
Mr. Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland – the world’s leader in harvesting geothermal energy – explained that 90% of all space-heating and close to 30% of all electricity in Iceland comes from geothermal sources. And that share will continue to grow as a result of vigorous expansion plans.
Mrs. Soifiat Tadjiddine Alfeine of Comoros described how the island is currently exploring its geothermal potential, and is in the planning phase for a 10MW geothermal plant with support from New Zealand. It is expected that geothermal energy could play a major role in addressing the island’s energy needs.
Indonesia plans to invest USD 20 billion to install an additional 2GW of capacity over the next 10 years, tripling its current installed capacity.
As for the less good news:
Speakers identified a range of challenges which the industry faces. These include: risks of exploration; high upfront development costs; human resource limitations; and regulatory difficulties. Moreover the simple lack of awareness about the promise and benefits of geothermal energy is a major barrier to its development – but also perhaps the easiest to overcome in the end. It was emphasized, however, that none of these obstacles are insurmountable.
Which brings us to some very good news:
On December 7, Energy Day at COP21, the Global Geothermal Alliance (GGA) will formally launch. The GGA will address investment challenges and help create the conditions for a rapid expansion of this key renewable resource. Its aim will be to break through existing barriers and achieve a 500% increase in global installed capacity for geothermal power generation, and a 200% increase in geothermal heating by 2030.
In development for two years, the GGA has attracted more than 40 countries and institutional partners. Its ambition will be nothing short of ensuring hundreds of millions of people are able to benefit from this clean and reliable source of renewable energy.
Geothermal energy is an abundant resource in the Andean region that has enormous potential to provide low-cost clean energy, though it remains largely untapped. The total geothermal resource capacity of the region is approximately 12 gigawatts, which equals the total installed global geothermal capacity in 2014. Despite such considerable and unique geothermal energy potential, no geothermal power plants are operating to date as Andean countries still face challenges. In this context, IRENA, together with the government of Colombia, recently co-organised a two-day workshop to address this issue. The event focused on: identifying the main barriers that Andean countries face in financing geothermal projects; and disseminating best practices.
The main obstacle for geothermal power investment and development is the high upfront costs of surface geophysical studies and drilling to explore for geothermal resources. But once a geothermal project is in operation, it can generate electricity at a low cost. With a combination of renewable technologies in place, a country could reap many rewards. Take for example, the workshop’s host country, Colombia, which stands to earn USD 775 million, or USD 221 million net, from implementing renewable energy incentives in the next 15 years. The measures, defined by the renewable energy law from 2014, will support, among other renewable energy technologies, geothermal power.
The workshop is part of IRENA’s Geothermal Initiative in the Andes, which was launched in cooperation with the Latin America Energy Organisation (OLADE) and the International Geothermal Association (IGA) to support the geothermal development of the Andean countries. The initiative includes the support from countries with substantial geothermal experience including Iceland, New Zealand, France and Mexico.
The Initiative seeks to: address policy uncertainty, a shortage of skilled professionals and perceived environmental issues and licensing that prevent a wider adoption of geothermal energy; present risk mitigation instruments and regional risk mitigation facilities to mitigate resource risk and identify conditions for governments to create the right investment environment for geothermal projects.
As a result of an initial workshop in Iceland in 2013, three key areas of support for the Initiative were identified:
Legal frameworks to complement the existing regulatory geothermal norms to further develop enabling conditions for investments;
Capacity building, and;
Access to finance and dissemination of innovative models to finance operations, including geothermal reinsurance and risk mitigation funds.
The Initiative is helping energy experts in Colombia and other countries in the region develop plans in reaching renewable goals.
“As a Government, we are committed to promoting non-conventional renewable energy sources, not only to contribute to achieving the commitments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 20 per cent by 2030 , but also to harness the potential of available renewable resources in the country, and to diversify the generation mix and ensure sustainable development of the sector” – Jorge Valencia, Director of the Mining and Energy Planning Unit, UPME of Colombia
“The energy policy of the Government of Colombia includes the diversification of energy sources and finding innovative solutions that takes into account the current environmental needs of the planet. It is from this that we derive these geothermal projects, to which we ascribe all the importance of this moment, in this country, to achieve all of our desired goals.” – Maria Victoria Reyes Mesa, Head of Environmental and Social issues, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Colombia
Read about Past Events of the Geothermal Initiative of the Andes:
Show your Twitter chops, learn more about renewable energy potentials worldwide, AND enter to win a Crosskase solar charging backpack with just one Tweet!
Between now and 30 September, download IRENA’s Global Atlas pocket – a free mobile tool that can show you the renewable energy potential for any location in the world – and complete the following steps to enter:
Open the app and select a location
Add a layer of the renewable energy technology of your choice
Share the map on Twitter
Hashtag your country or region, the energy source, and add to the existing text in the share window. Make sure to include the #GlobalAtlas hashtag and @IRENA in your entry.
10 winners will be chosen from the participants, plus one winner for the Tweet with the most re-Tweets.
Here are a few examples:
Mapping renewable energy potential around the world through @IRENA’s #GlobalAtlas #solar #Mali
Mapping renewable energy potential around the world through @IRENA’s #GlobalAtlas #wind #Japan
The Global Atlas pocket is now available on all platforms including BlackBerry® 10, iOS, Android™ and Windows Phone®. Download the Global Atlas pocket for free:
The Global Atlas pocket app combines 1,000 maps from 67 governments and 50 data centres to provide reliable information on renewable energy resources, from major cities, to isolated islands, to remote deserts. It transforms your mobile device into a prospector for renewable energy. To learn how to use the app, watch the tutorial:
After years of negotiations between 193 countries, the climate conference in Paris (COP21) is expected to be a turning point in the fight against climate change. The energy sector, accounting for some two-thirds of all global emissions, must be a top priority for action if we are to keep global temperature rise below 2°C.
Accordingly, for the first time at any UN climate conference, renewable energy solutions will be showcased in a series of high profile events. This renewable energy track, named RE-Energising the Future (#REenergise), will demonstrate that renewable energy deployment offers a realistic means to meet our climate goals.
This page will house the most up-to-date information about IRENA’s activities at COP 21. Check back for more information as it becomes available.
The SIDS Lighthouses Initiative, High-Level Event IRENA and BMUB of Germany will host a high-level panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges of advancing renewable energy deployment on islands. SIDS Lighthouses Initiative brochure (PDF)
4 – 5 December
RE-Energising Thematic RE Workshops This series of thematic workshops, led by different organizational partners, will focus opportunities and benefits offered by renewables in a range of sectors.
RE in Industry
3pm – 5pm @ FNSEA, 11 rue de la Baume,
RE in the MENA Region
11.00am – 12.30pm @ GCC Pavilion
RE track partners (EC, IRENA, REN21, UAE, SER)
5 December 9:30am – 5:30pm @UNFCCC Blue Zone, Plenary 2
Lima Paris Action Agenda Day This day will showcase high-level action across a broad range of sectors being addressed in the Lima-Paris Action Agenda.
9:30am – 7:00pm
@ Palais Brongniart Paris
RE-Energising the Future, High-Level Event High-level speakers will share their visions for a future powered by renewable energy. CEOs will describe what it took to get their companies to go for 100% renewables; government leaders will describe their ambitious plans for scaling up renewable energy investments; and industry leaders will describe innovations and breakthroughs for faster deployment. By special invitation only
10:15am – 6:40pm
@ UNFCCC Blue Zone, Hall 4, Room 10
LPAA Energy Day at COP21 This is Energy Day at COP21. Major announcements will be made: new commitments, action plans, coalitions, innovative solutions etc. The morning session will focus on renewable energy and the afternoon session will focus on energy efficiency/access.
IRENA and Sustainable Energy for All
10:00 – 11:30am
@ Peruvian Pavilion
Sustainable Energy Marketplace – Caribbean & Latin America IRENA and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have partnered to expand the Sustainable Energy Marketplace to Latin America and the Caribbean. The online platform connects project developers, financiers, and service providers to encourage and support the development and financial closure of sustainable energy projects. Marketplace brochure (PDF)
2:00 – 4:30pm
@ African Pavilion
Africa Clean Energy Corridor This event, directed towards Africa Clean Energy Corridor (ACEC) stakeholders, will highlight progress made to date and plans for future growth of the initiative. ACEC brochure (PDF)
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) now have an action plan to increase their domestic deployment of renewable energy. The Martinique Action Plan (MAP), developed during a June conference in Martinique, outlines practical steps for deployment of renewable energy resources and technologies on SIDS. The MAP focuses largely on the development of wind, marine, geothermal and biomass, but stresses all renewable energy sources are needed for the transition to a sustainable future. The MAP also focuses on waste-to-energy systems to manage waste streams on islands, renewable desalination systems to meet growing island water needs, and measures for boosting renewable generation on power grids.
“The Martinique Action Plan aims to advance the goal of mobilizing the human, financial and technical resources to sustainably transition the energy systems of SIDS. It will live and grow as the basis for follow-up events in Hawaii in July, in Bangkok in August, and in Cape Town in September – all on the road to Paris in December.” – Henning Wuester, IRENA Director of Knowledge Policy and Finance
Hugh Sealy, Lead Negotiator for AOSIS, the Association of Small Island Developing States, said the MAP could form a solid basis for immediate actions by islands and partners to mitigate and strengthen resilience to climate change to showcase the positive contribution of renewable energy at the Paris UN climate change negotiations in December. The MAP also emphasizes the transformational nature of renewable energy on islands and the need for the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, including at the community level. The Martinique Conference on Island Energy Transitions, held under the theme, “Pathways for Accelerated Uptake of Renewables”, took place in Fort-de-France, Martinique from June 22-24. Attendees included government officials, companies and utilities involved in renewable energy development, banks interested in financing renewable energy development, experts in renewable energy resource assessment, and development partners. The conference was held under the umbrella of the SIDS IRENA’s Island Lighthouse Initiative, launched at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in 2014. With 27 SIDS and 19 Development partners, the initiative aims to:
Mobilize USD 500 million
Deploy 100 MW of new solar PV
Deploy 20 MW of new wind power
Deploy small hydropower, geothermal energy and a number of marine technology projects (in progress)
Ensure all participating SIDS develop renewable energy road maps
By speeding the uptake of renewable energy on islands around the world, the Lighthouse Initiative will enable SIDS to lead by example on climate change though maximizing the use of indigenous, clean and plentiful renewable energy in a structured, holistic approach to ensure long-term sustainability.
The Pacific Islands are perhaps best known for their beautiful beaches, azure waters and rich sea life, but they are rich in something else as well: renewable energy.
Three recent assessments of renewable energy potential on the island states found that a combination of solar, wind, geothermal, marine, biomass and bio-fuel could meet their domestic energy needs while decreasing electricity costs, increasing energy access, and boosting their energy independence.
Vanuatu has abundant renewable energy resources, including solar, geothermal, wind, biomass and biofuel, but is still dependent on imported fossil fuels. In recent years, the high cost of imported energy has hampered social and economic development. Accordingly, the government created a National Energy Roadmap, which aims to increase the share of renewables in the nation’s energy mix from 43% today to 63% by 2030. The Vanuatu Renewables Readiness Assessment outlines achievements towards this end and identifies areas for further action including capacity building and the development of off-grid renewables to bring modern energy services to the 83% of rural residents currently without.
The Marshall Islands is rich in solar and wind potential, but, like Vanuatu, depends heavily on fossil fuel imports. After declaring a state of economic emergency following a 2008 fuel price spike, the government enacted the National Energy Policy and the Energy Action Plan, which aim to improve lives through renewable energy deployment. Since then, thousands of solar installations have taken place on households in the outer islands, but wind potential has yet to be explored. The Marshall Islands Renewables Readiness Assessment outlines areas for further action, which include improving institutional coordination, planning for off-grid renewables and addressing fuel drum leakage.
Fiji also depends heavily on imported petroleum-based fuels, which affects energy security and energy prices. As the costs of renewable energy technologies decline, Fiji is making more use of its renewable energy resources including hydropower, biomass, solar, geothermal and wind energy. Fiji’s National Energy Policy finds that it could feasibly achieve 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, but reaching this target will require more action. The Fiji Renewables Readiness Assessment recommends implementing the National Energy Policy, improving coordination between agencies and exploring renewable-powered maritime transport and geothermal energy.
“The development of local renewable resources in these island nations would decrease their dependency on fuel imports and reduce risks associated with oil price volatility. The falling costs of renewable energy offers them an opportunity to rethink their energy strategies, develop policies and build institutions that would create jobs, bring power to those currently without and deliver more reliable electricity services, all while combating climate change.” – IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin
Renewables Readiness Assessments (RRAs) offer a holistic evaluation of conditions for renewable energy deployment in a country and outline the actions necessary to further improve these conditions. Since 2011, more than 20 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific Islands have undertaken the RRA process with IRENA to accelerate the domestic deployment of renewable technologies.
Covering the latest news from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and developments in renewables.