The World Bank just announced they are creating a new fund for international geothermal development. Their goal is to raise $500 million for new geothermal projects in a variety of countries. This initiative was spoken about at the Iceland Geothermal Conference in Iceland by Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati. “Geothermal energy could be a triple win for developing countries: clean, reliable, locally-produced power. And once it is up and running, it is cheap and virtually endless.Two of those goals are universal access to modern energy services, and doubling the world’s proportion of renewable energy,” explained Indrawati. (Source: World Bank)
The World Bank and Iceland are already collaborating on potential development in Africa’s Rift Valley, a well-known geothermal hotspot. This area has been said by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to have 2.5 to 6.5 GW of geothermal potential. Once operational, geothermal tends to be quite stable and long-lasting. The reliability and durability of geothermal energy could be quite a boon to developing countries that currently have economies tied to fluctuating oil prices. If they import a significant amount of oil, and some do, they are sending too much money out of country, so their own economic viability suffers. Clean, renewable, reliable domestic energy sources could help them grow and stabilize their economies.
The World Bank geothermal plan is intended to help overcome technical, financial, workforce and political barriers for developing countries with geothermal potential, and there are at least forty of these nations. Their geothermal resources are large enough that a significant amount of their electricity could be generated by this clean source, but they currently don’t have the ability to move assertively forward with such development.
One area the World Bank plan intends to help with is the initial drilling to determine the viability of a geothermal stream. This exploratory phase can cost millions of dollars and require a technical skillset and administration that is beyond some local capacities. Southeast Asia, Central America, and the Andes are areas with good geothermal resources, in addition to East Africa. If such regional geothermal installations are begun and completed, they obviously would create jobs both in the construction and operation, and would employ some local people.
Image Credit: Lydur Skulason, Wiki Commons
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