Geothermal energy


Geothermal energy can provide heating, cooling and base-load power generation from high-temperature hydrothermal resources, aquifer systems with low and medium temperatures, and hot rock resources. Each geothermal source is unique in its location, temperature and pool depth, and various geothermal technologies have been developed to best specific resources. Flash steam, dry steam, binary and enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) are the leading geothermal technologies for power generation.

Geothermal power plants provide stable production output, unaffected by climatic variations, resulting in high capacity factors (ranging from 60% to 90%) and making the technology suitable for baseload production. They are particularly common in countries that have high-temperature geothermal resources.

In 2017, global geothermal power generation stood at an estimated 84.8 TWh, while the cumulative capacity reached 14 GW. Global geothermal power capacity is expected to rise to just over17 GW by 2023, with the biggest capacity additions expected in Indonesia, Kenya, Philippines and Turkey.

	Accelerated case	China	Eurasia	Africa	Latin America	Europe	North America	APAC
2017	0.00	0.03	0.08	0.65	0.72	2.61	4.50	5.17
2018	0.09	0.03	0.08	0.65	0.72	2.73	4.52	5.41
2019	0.22	0.04	0.08	0.80	0.86	2.79	4.55	5.70
2020	0.24	0.05	0.08	0.87	0.88	2.87	4.57	6.01
2021	0.34	0.06	0.08	1.06	0.95	2.92	4.64	6.34
2022	0.61	0.08	0.08	1.20	0.96	2.98	4.71	6.67
2023	0.86	0.10	0.08	1.24	1.10	3.03	4.80	7.02
	
{
	"title": {
		"text": "Geothermal power generation and cumulative capacity by region, 2017-2023"
	},
	"subtitle": {
		"text": "Click a region in the legend to show/hide"
	},
	"tooltip": {
		"valueSuffix": " GW",
"enabled": false
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		"spacingTop": 30,
		"spacingBottom": 30,
		"spacingRight": 20
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		"reversed": "true"
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	"yAxis": [{
			"title": {
				"text": "Geothermal capacity (GW)"
			}
		},
		{
			"title": {
				"text": "Geothermal generation (TWh)"
			},
			"opposite": true
		}
	],
	"series": [{}, {}, {}, {}, {}, {}, {}, {}, {
		"name": "Generation",
		"type": "line",
		"data": [
			[2017, 87.66],
			[2018, 91.6],
			[2019, 96.39],
			[2020, 101.1],
			[2021, 105.5],
			[2022, 109.8],
			[2023, 110.6]
		],
"yAxis": 1,
		"tooltip": {
			"valueSuffix": " TWh"
		}
	}]
}

Source: Renewables 2018

Only a limited number of countries use geothermal energy directly for heat production, with China and Turkey alone accounting for 80% of consumption in 2017. Over 2012-17, global consumption almost doubled, mostly due to rapid growth in China. Over the outlook period (2018-23), growth is expected to be lower at 24% but to remain important in a number of countries and sectors.

While most geothermal heat is used for bathing (45%) and space heating (34%), agriculture (primarily for heating greenhouses) has long been an important end-use sector in some countries. Over recent years, the energy-intensive greenhouse sector in the Netherlands has expanded geothermal use due to strong policy support, and the country has become the fourth-largest user of geothermal heat in the agriculture sector after China, Turkey and Japan.

Elsewhere, new geothermal heat developments have focused mainly on district heating. In the European Union, nine plants were put into operation in 2017, with 75 MWth of new capacity in France, Italy and the Netherlands.

	Geothermal heat
Turkey	79.1
Rest of the world	40.9
United States	11.8
New Zealand	7.6
Japan	7.5
Italy	5.2
Iceland	3.4
China	389.3
{
	"title": {
		"text": "Geothermal energy consumption for heat by end-use sector, 2012-23"
	},
	"tooltip": {
		"shared": true,
		"valueSuffix": " PJ"
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}

Source: Renewables 2018

Technology Roadmaps

The IEA has developed and regularly updates a series of global, low-carbon energy technology roadmaps which identify priority actions for governments, industry, financial partners and civil society that will advance technology development and uptake to achieve international climate change goals.

Browse all Technology Roadmaps >

Technology Roadmap: Geothermal Heat and Power

Published: 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.

Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs)

Geothermal TCP

The goal of the IEA TCP on Geothermal is to provide a framework for international co-operation on R&D. Activities include information sharing; developing best practice on the use of technologies and techniques; exploration, development and utilisation of geothermal; and producing and disseminating authoritative analysis and databases. There are currently 15 Contracting Parties, including Iceland and Mexico, as well as five Sponsors.

Learn more about the Geothermal TCP >

About Technology Collaboration Programmes

The breadth and coverage of analytical expertise in the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs) are unique assets that underpin IEA efforts to support innovation for energy security, economic growth and environmental protection. The 38 TCPs operating today involve about 6 000 experts from government, industry and research organisations in more than 50 countries.

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