Archive for January, 2016



Finally geothermal is in the saddle for renewables. At the recently concluded CoP 21 (December 7,2015), countries across the world unanimously endorsed that future energy needs will be provided by geothermal energy sources (hydrothermal and EGS). Global geothermal alliance is formed. IRENA facilitated the initiative where 38 countries are members. Over 20 development and industrial partners have come together to deploy geothermal energy in all the sectors..i.e. domestic, industrial, transport, agriculture and water resources sectors. “Geothermal has proven its potential to be part of both the global climate and energy action agenda. While geothermal can provide baseload power at some of the lowest costs for any power source, it remains under-developed. The Global Geothermal Alliance (GGA) will provide a platform for partners to share best practices, further reduce costs and get the most benefit out of this sustainable energy resource.” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.

Excerpts from the Joint Communique issued by the Global Geothermal Alliance on the occasion of 21 st meting of CoP of UNFCCC : The full report can be accessed from UNFCCC web site or the CoP web site or IEA website.


Geothermal energy is a proven clean energy technology that provides stable and affordable electricity and offers flexibility and direct use of geothermal heat in domestic, commercial and industrial sectors, yet the modest pace of its deployment hinders reaping the potentially game changing benefits of geothermal technologies.

Despite the vast global identified geothermal energy resources potential in nearly 90 countries, only 24 countries are producing geothermal electricity. This is about six per cent of the estimated global geothermal power potential.

Shortage of skilled professionals, policy uncertainty, environmental concerns, licensing delays, and delay in deploying dedicated transmission infrastructure are main barriers in geothermal development. There is a lack of awareness and limited information about geothermal technologies are preventing geothermal growth.

It took nearly decades for the communities to realize the potential of geothermal. Geothermal energy is cost effective, needs less land area, can provide 24×7 baseload electricity, and works at >90 % efficiency. Does not require back up power or batteries unlike solar pv. The pay-back period is about 4 to 5 years. The power plants can work for > 30 years. Today geothermal is generating over 12000 MWe of electricity and large number of homes are geothermally heated.

All countries are energy hungry. As we produce more and more, we consume even more and more. The NOCs have become more stronger, thus diluting the powers of erstwhile seven sisters….BP, ESSO, Gulf Oil, Mobil, RDS,SC, Texaco who subsequently reorganised to form supermajors. With the govts funding large projects, the NOCs have become less dependent on SMs. With advancement of technology, once held view” oil reserve will decline in future” has become a myth in some minds. With the know-how of “open secret” extraction technology the NOCs have the opportunity to explore and exploit unexplored horizons below the earth. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia and other Gulf countries who controls the world oil market continue to do so. But there will be a limit and cost for every drop oil extracted in future. With increase in the use of cars, demand for oil to drive them will increase from the present 60% demand. The question is whether to be happy at our new technologies that is able to provide more and more oil or conserve the reserves by using energy source mix through other energy sources like geothermal? With increase in the use of fossil fuels, the future generation is at risk and have to face adverse climatic conditions that is debated and re-debated by all the countries under the UNFCCC umbrella.

Are we really justified to do this? There is alternate solution to tide over this crisis for the future generation. Franking and cracking and enhanced oil recovery technologies through polymers may meet immediate demand and establishes human’s “super-power’. But, at the end of the day, these are detrimental to the subsurface environment and. If advance country are doing, that is because they have land at their disposal. But countries of non-OECD group need caution in exercising these option when there is good viable option available in hand. When Earth is providing sufficient oil and gas for the mankind to live, the same earth is also providing heat to use it. Even if every country can use 5 percent of its energy needs from geothermal, the countries and prosper and achieve the current GDP and breath clean air. It is a question of mind set and priorities. Our priority should not be to be over smart by implementing super technologies to maintain the GDP but to be smart in maintaining sustainable development with the same technologies we have. There are activities that can use energy sources other than oil and gas. Countries have to strengthen these technologies.

The recent global climate change meeting that concluded in Paris recently (CoP 21 December 2015) made a big thrust on geothermal by endorsing Goble Geothermal Alliance. Finally wisdom prevailed and thus GGA formed. Countries are looking at various sources of heat below the ground to extract. EGS is the future. Drilling technology has supported EGS to a large extent and today countries are looking at deeply buried, high heat generating granites below the sedimentary cover for energy. Technology is emerging to extract heat from such granites through circulating CO2. This is a win-win situation……reduce CO2 to control the climate and to use the same gas to extract heat from the granites to generate power. We have no better option than this. R and D in hydro fracturing is at its peak now with countries taking the challenges and generating electricity from granites. To count a few, Indian granites have the potential to generate energy equivalent to 3.133 x 1022 BTU. Even if 2 % of this energy is extracted, it will do wonders. This will control CO2 emission on one side and allow countries to utilize their oil reserves for a longer period than that envisaged by a few pundits. This especially true with respect to the oil giants like Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries. These countries do have reasonable reserves of geothermal resources awaiting utilization. The land requirement for geothermal power plants are small compared to other renewable like solar pv and wind. Geothermal power plants need 1 acre/MWe, while solar pv and wind need 7 and 3 acre/MWe respectively.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released a new report focusing on an area located in southern California’s Imperial Valley. The analysis shows that the geothermal potential of the Salton Sea region is about 1800 MW.

Countries are enhancing the project work on geothermal to offset part of fossil fuels use and to reduce CO2 emissions. The catch word for the future is energy mix to support sustainable development.

Although India has a large geothermal potential, lack of knowledge and awareness among the policy makers and renewable energy agencies of the states and centre becoming a big barriers for developing this clean and free source energy. Since this energy is clean, provides 24 x 7 uninterrupted supply with >90% efficiency and with affordable unit cost, it has an initial premium value. All good things comes with a premium!! Not only power, geothermal supports space cooling and heating, dehydration, green house cultivation and aquaculture. Cold regions like Ladakh that imports fuel and food from other states has huge geothermal resources. By the time our pundits realize and implement the development policy for geothermal, our neighbouring country will harness all the available resources for “Silk Road” development. The entire Himalayan geothermal belt is a potential power warehouse waiting to be harnessed. Repeated requests from GeoSyndicate Power Pvt. Ltd, to develop the Himalayan geothermal resources did not attract attention from the energy pundits. Geothermal power does not need subsidy. People at the helm of affairs do not understand basics of earth system. They have no idea about the earth’s internal dynamics and processes. Many think geothermal means thermal and expect huge investments. The govt. should have a strong technocrats in its advisory committee. Old and obsolete methods and men should be replaced by dynamic and innovative minds. When ARMACO is thinking of geothermal to reduce domestic oil and gas consumption, there is reason why countries like India should sit back and let out huge volumes of CO2 into the atmosphere.