WASHINGTON — The past 12 months saw continued economic challenges for many American industries, including those in the renewable energy field, but the country’s geothermal community witnessed a year of growth, both domestically and abroad, according to the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA). The GEA expressed optimism for 2013, while looking back on a difficult yet successful 2012.

In 2012, seven new geothermal energy projects and additions came online in the United States, totaling 147.05 MW of gross capacity. This represents the second highest increase in geothermal power capacity over a calendar year since the production tax credit (PTC) was extended to geothermal in 2005, and a 5 percent increase over 2011 year-end data. The capacity added in 2012 would meet the residential needs of a city the size of Vancouver, Wash., or Kansas City, Kan.

An additional highlight of 2012 was that the first hybrid solar-geothermal project was commissioned by Enel Green Power at its Stillwater Geothermal Power Plant.

As for the 2013 outlook, the geothermal industry is poised to build on its 2012 successes in the coming year, said the GEA. Across the globe more and more countries are accessing their geothermal potential, and in the United States hopes are high that the PTC will be extended, further bolstering the industry. An extension of the PTC would be a boon for geothermal, and an uptick in construction would likely ensue.

As the U.S. and nations around the world look to replace fossil fuels to minimize the threat of global warming, geothermal power is expected to grow in its value and importance in the years ahead. Geothermal can provide reliable 24/7 baseload power or complement other energy technologies by firming up more intermittent power generation. It can also provide power for small co-production projects to large utility scale power plants.

For more information, visit www.geo-energy.org.

Publication date: 12/31/2012