Global Geothermal Alliance Concept One Step Further

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The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) convened roughly 60 stakeholders in June in Nairobi to finalize the concept of the Global Geothermal Alliance (GGA) and exchange views on the best way forward. GEA’s Executive Director Karl Gawell participated as a U.S. NGO representative with support from Power Africa and the U.S. – East Africa Geothermal Partnership. “The high-level policy involvement by the leadership and participants was impressive and a measure of success for IRENA’s efforts,” noted Gawell.

Prior to the Nairobi meeting, talk of an Energy Global Geothermal Alliance took the form of an Action Statement and Action Plan at the United Nations’ September 2014 Climate Summit in New York, though that development did not have official U.S. participation. As a result of the June meeting, the Executive Directors of both GEA and the International Geothermal Association (IGA) expressed willingness and interest in supporting the effort.

The meeting was conducted by Joseph Njoroge, Principal Secretary of the Kenyan Ministry of Energy; Adnan Amin, Director General of IRENA and H.E. Simon D’Ujanga, Minister of Energy, Uganda. IRENA officials said, “The Alliance aims to identify and promote different models associated with geothermal development and generation to enable and encourage investments and to integrate geothermal facilities into energy markets.”

Numerous participants reviewed the status of geothermal efforts in their countries:


·      Kenya’s Geothermal Development Corporation gave an impressive presentation on their effort to prioritize geothermal development, noting Kenya is now number 8 in geothermal worldwide. But Kenya made it clear that it intends to go further, with an estimated geothermal potential of 10,000 MW.


·      Sahele Fekede of Ethiopia’s Ministry presented the numerous developments underway in his country. He noted they are working with various multi-lateral and financial entities and also discussed a new Ethiopian geothermal resource assessment that estimates 2,114 MW to 10,791 MW potential with 4,200 MW as “most likely.” He said they intend to have a new geothermal framework implemented by the end of the year.


·      Rainer Halcon of the Philippines Department of Energy noted that geothermal energy now makes up more than 10 percent of energy capacity in the Philippines and 13 percent of the power mix. He said that since passage of a new renewable energy law the interest in geothermal has resurged and also gave a new installation target of 1,180 MW by 2020.


·      Camilo Tautiva from Columbia presented a map showing ten energy projects, adding that his country is actively working on new policy and regulatory structure for geothermal.


·      Peru’s representative, Alcides Claros, presented details on 2,860 MW of potential in Peru. He said they had already granted 20 licenses for geothermal.


·      About 15 percent of Costa Rica’s energy is now geothermal. The country has a new 55-MW project under construction and 2 more scheduled to be on-line in 2021 and 2023, respectively.


·      Representatives from El Salvador said that the country is now 24 percent geothermal powered and highlighted efforts to develop a regional geothermal center.


·      The Secretariat of the Pacific Community pointed to Papua New Guinea, The Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji as potential geothermal strong spots.

There were afternoon presentations by GEA, IRENA, Enel Green Power, IFC, French Ministry of Ecology and the African Union. GEA’s presentation centered on geothermal risk and risk mitigation points that were previously presented in a joint GEA-U.S. Department of State workshop in 2014 and was well received. Following these presentations an open discussion sought to clarify the concept of a Global Geothermal Alliance. In general there was strong support for moving forward with the IRENA effort.

The following day the group toured the Olkaria Geothermal Site. “The geothermal work at Olkaria is impressive,” noted Gawell. “Olkaria development is something Kenyans are proud of and it should give other countries a sense of what is possible for their economy if they pursue geothermal power.”

IRENA intends to make the presentations available on its Web site in the near future.

Lead image: Olkaria Geothermal Field in Kenya, June 2015. Credit: GEA.

A delegation of geothermal stakeholders visited Kenya for the Global Geothermal Alliance meeting and toured the control room of Olkaria 4 Power Plant on June 16, 2015. Credit: GEA.


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