Investment in geothermal power generation projects is set to boom in the coming years, with investment in 2021 expected to exceed USD 1 billion for the first time ever, and to jump to as much as USD 3 billion in 2026. Also, lithium extraction could generate additional interest in geothermal resources, according to energy research firm Rystad Energy.
The number of geothermal wells drilled for power generation surpassed 200 this year for the first time ever, and Rystad Energy expects to see around 500 wells in 2025. Between 2015 and 2020, around 1,100 geothermal wells were drilled for power generation, with an average of 180 per year, according to the company’s estimates.
Total installed capacity for geothermal power generation could reach 36 GW in 2030
The number of active wells for geothermal power generation is expected to surpass 10,000 by the end of the decade, resulting in a total installed capacity of 36 gigawatts (GW) in 2030. Most of this capacity will be added between 2025 and 2030, with levels in 2025 expected to be around 23 GW.
Whether or not geothermal targets will be met depends on the development of new technologies, such as enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) and advanced geothermal systems (AGS), which will make geothermal resources more accessible, Rystad Energy said.
Geothermal district heating is also gaining ground, while lithium extraction could generate additional interest
Geothermal district heating is also gaining ground, with Europe and China the two main markets. Austria has already announced plans to invest USD 1.2 billion on geothermal district heating –wells and infrastructure – between 2020 and 2050, with USD 215 million earmarked for the period until 2030. The Netherlands plans to drill 20 wells a year for district heating between 2020 and 2025, and 40 each year between 2026 and 2030.
Additional interest in geothermal may be generated by the repurposing of existing oil and gas infrastructure, as well as the extraction of lithium, which has a higher return compared to traditional uses of geothermal, Rystad Energy noted in the press release.