Technology Roadmap: Geothermal Heat and Power

Technology Roadmap: Geothermal Heat and Power
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Edition: 2011
52 pages

Release Date: 14 June 2011


The technology roadmap for Geothermal Heat and Power offers a strategic plan to maximise deployment of these energy resources by 2050. It projects that 1,400 TWh of electricity per year could come from geothermal power by 2050, up from 67 TWh at present.

Additionally, geothermal heat (not including ground-source heat pump technology) could contribute 5.8 EJ (1,600 TWh) annually by 2050. In order to reach these targets, policy makers, local authorities and utilities need to be more aware of the variety of geothermal resources available and of their possible applications. This roadmap describes the technological, economic and non-economic barriers facing geothermal deployment, and the steps stakeholders must take to overcome them.


Key Findings

  • By 2050, geothermal electricity generation could reach 1,400 TWh per year, i.e. around 3.5% of global electricity production, avoiding almost 800 megatonnes (Mt) of CO2 emissions per year.
  • Geothermal heat could contribute 5.8 EJ (1,600 TWh thermal energy) annually by 2050, i.e. 3.9% of projected final energy for heat.
  • In the period to 2030, rapid expansion of geothermal electricity and heat production will be dominated by accelerated deployment of conventional high-temperature hydrothermal resources, driven by relatively attractive economics but limited to areas where such resources are available. Deployment of low- and medium-temperature hydrothermal resources in deep aquifers will also grow quickly, reflecting wider availability and increasing interest in their use for both heat and power.
  • By 2050, more than half of the projected increase comes from exploitation of ubiquitously available hot rock resources, mainly via enhanced geothermal systems (EGS).  Substantially higher research, development and demonstration (RD&D) resources are needed in the next decades to ensure EGS becomes commercially viable by 2030.
  • A holistic policy framework is needed that addresses technical barriers relating to resource assessment, accessing and engineering the resource, geothermal heat use and advanced geothermal technologies. Moreover, such a holistic framework needs to address barriers relating to economics, regulations, market facilitation and RD&D support.
  • Policy makers, local authorities and utilities need to be more aware of the full range of geothermal resources available and of their possible applications in order to develop consistent policies accordingly. This is particularly true for geothermal heat, which can be used at varying temperatures for a wide variety of tasks.
  • Important R&D priorities for geothermal energy include accelerating resource assessment, development of more competitive drilling technology and improving EGS technology as well as managing health, safety and environmental (HSE) concerns.
  • Advanced technologies for offshore, geo-pressured and super-critical (or even magma) resources could unlock a huge additional resource base. Where reasonable, co-produced hot water from oil and gas wells can be turned into an economic asset.

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