Geo­ther­mal Energy to Boost De­vel­op­ment of the Global South

Southern Innovator - - CONTENTS -

The geo­ther­mal heat pro­duced by the earth’s molten core is a re­source re­ceiv­ing more and more at­ten­tion across the global South. Prop­erly har­nessed, geo­ther­mal energy of­fers a low-cost, non-pol­lut­ing source of power and hot wa­ter that does not harm the en­vi­ron­ment or con­trib­ute to cli­mate change.

The coun­try that has made the most of this re­source is the Scan­di­na­vian is­land coun­try of Ice­land, one of the world’s most vol­cani­cally ac­tive places.

The coun­try was once one of the poor­est in Europe, de­pen­dent on fish­ing as its main in­come source. But by 2007-2008, Ice­land was ranked as hav­ing the high­est level of hu­man de­vel­op­ment in the world.

One of the con­trib­u­tors to this im­pres­sive im­prove­ment in hu­man de­vel­op­ment is the tap­ping of the coun­try’s geo­ther­mal energy re­serves.

Ac­cord­ing to the Geo­ther­mal Energy As­so­ci­a­tion (GEA), “Ice­land is widely con­sid­ered the suc­cess story of the geo­ther­mal com­mu­nity. The coun­try of just over 300,000 peo­ple is now fully pow­ered by re­new­able forms of energy, with 17 per cent of elec­tric­ity and 87 per cent of heat­ing needs pro­vided by geo­ther­mal energy.”

World­wide, geo­ther­mal energy sup­plies power to 24 coun­tries, pro­duc­ing enough elec­tric­ity to meet the needs of 60 mil­lion peo­ple (GEA).

The Philip­pines gen­er­ates 23 per cent of its elec­tric­ity from geo­ther­mal energy and is the world’s sec­ond-big­gest pro­ducer be­hind the United States. Geo­ther­mal energy is also help­ing to pro­vide power in Costa Rica, Gu­atemala, In­done­sia and Mexico.

Energy is crit­i­cal to ad­vances in hu­man de­vel­op­ment. Elec­tric­ity en­ables the in­tro­duc­tion of light­ing in homes and the use of wash­ing ma­chines and other mod­ern ap­pli­ances and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tools. And, cru­cially, it does not harm the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment like con­ven­tional energy sources such as coal, gas or nu­clear power with­its legacy of ra­dioac­tive waste.

While not all coun­tries are as well po­si­tioned as vol­cani­cally ac­tive Ice­land or the Philip­pines, many can find a way to tap this nat­u­ral re­source.

Ice­land is widely con­sid­ered the suc­cess story of the geo­ther­mal com­mu­nity

In­ter­est in this power source is in­creas­ing in Cen­tral and South Amer­ica, whose energy con­sump­tion is forecast to in­crease by 72 per cent by 2035 ( In­ter­na­tional Energy Out­look 2011).

South Amer­ica cur­rently re­lies heav­ily on hy­dro­elec­tric power, but this is prov­ing in­suf­fi­cient to meet the grow­ing de­mand. A World Bank study says that “Latin Amer­i­can and Caribbean coun­tries could boost re­gion-wide elec­tric­ity sup­ply by 30 per cent by 2030 by di­ver­si­fy­ing the energy mix to in­clude hy­dropower, nat­u­ral gas, and re­new­able energy” (ESMAP).

The ar­eas best placed to tap this re­source are lo­cated along the Pa­cific Rim from Mexico to Chile and in parts of the Caribbean.

The 2012 Geo­ther­mal: In­ter­na­tional Mar­ket Over­view Re­port by the Geo­ther­mal Energy As­so­ci­a­tion (GEA) found that Ar­gentina, Chile and Peru are mov­ing ahead with plans. – (Oc­to­ber 2012)

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