Geothermal energy is a type of heat energy that is produced in the earth’s core. This energy is utilized in a wide range of applications from power stations to simple pumping systems. Geothermal energy is considered as a renewable source of energy since the water which is captured in the form of heat while extracting geothermal energy is continuously replenished by rainfall and again the heat generated from it can be used. A major concentration of geothermal energy on the planet is in the area bordering the Pacific Ocean and is called the Ring of Fire.
There are two types of geothermal systems – hydrothermal and hot rock or enhanced geothermal systems. The most important type of geothermal energy is hydrothermal energy which is most widely used for generating electricity.
Increasing concerns regarding energy security, economic growth in developing markets, rising costs of fossil fuels, several incentives given by European countries, new technologies like binary technology, which can use even moderate temperatures to generate a decent amount of electricity, are some of the major drivers that are significantly fuelling this market. The major impediments which this industry faces include initial financing of large scale projects, resource development risks like failure of drilling wells and insufficient productivity, lack of skilled labor to work on the projects, issues related to drilling rigs and market and network issues like proximity to the market and network capital costs. Also, there are some environmental problems in producing geothermal energy like release of hydrogen sulfide and disposal of toxic geothermal fluids while extraction.
Challenges to this industry are carrying out efficient programs for land leasing where reserves of geothermal energy are located, better drilling assistance in terms of accurate positioning of the site and its viability, and significant financial support needed to establish the plants at the desired locations.
The United States of America has the largest amount of installed capacity and is succeeded by Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, and Italy. Currently there are over 150 projects under development in the U.S.. On the other hand, China is the largest direct user of geothermal energy followed by the United States, Sweden, and Turkey.
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Some of the players of this sector include Ormat Technologies, Chevron, Calpine, US Geothermal, Raser Technologies, AltaRock Energy, Enel Green Power North America, Gradient Resources, Islandsbanki, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company., Nevada Geothermal Power Inc. , Ram Power, Terra-Gen Power, ThermaSource, Cyrq Energy, Scientific Drilling International (SDI), and Toshiba International Corporation.
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