Posts tagged “Geothermal”
The biggest constraint to renewable energy growth in the US is the availability of tax equity to support project investment. There is not nearly as much tax equity investment as is needed to support financing and building all of the renewable energy projects in development – as a result the pace of project financing and construction is being severely constrained. Many new investors will begin to enter this tax equity investment space in pursuit of outsized returns with virtually no risk created by a significantly undersupplied investment market. These new tax investors will usher in a period of unprecedented growth in the construction of renewable energy projects.
The Strange Market of Tax Equity Investing
Investment in renewable energy comes from three sources. (1) Project Equity –the investment that actually owns the clean energy facility, this includes the risk of operation and the long-term value of the asset, and there are plenty of investors willing to participate as part of (or all of) this investment. (2) Debt – this is generally traditional project equity lending, and as with project equity there are plenty of lenders – big banks, small banks, private debt funds – ready to lend to all kinds of renewable energy projects. For these traditional sources of project financing project risks are increasingly well understood and, provided there is enough project revenue to cover debt repayment, this money is readily available. (3) Tax Equity – this third, and vital source of capital are investments made in the project that will be repaid primarily through tax credits and other tax savings to the tax equity investor. There simply is not currently enough tax equity to support the pace of growth in renewable power development in the U.S. CONTINUE»
The Under-appreciated Renewable
I’ve been fascinated by geothermal energy for years, and the publication of the latest “International Market Overview” from the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) provides a good opportunity to examine how this proven, low-emission energy technology is changing and expanding into new opportunities.
Global geothermal power capacity grew by just under 5% in the 16 months since the group’s previous international survey. That’s slower than the recent growth of wind and solar power, although its worth recalling that global solar output only caught up with geothermal in 2011 and still lags behind it in the US. Sufficient projects are apparently now under development or construction eventually to double global geothermal capacity to over 23 gigawatts (GW).
Following two full years of study, scientists have confirmed that they have identified a huge geothermal hotspot in Utah, presenting the possibilities of exploitation of the find for cheap energy production purposes.
The area in question, covering an area of about 100 square miles, lies in Utah’s Black Rock Desert basin, south of Delta. During the two-year study, researchers drilled nine deep wells in the basin in an effort to confirm that water at very high temperatures was close enough to the surface to be manipulated, potentially allowing it to be converted relatively easily into steam to be used to generate electricity. (See more: World Energy Consumption Facts, Figures, and Shockers)
The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century has just released their annual Renewables 2011 Global Status Report. I was one of the reviewers of the draft report, and therefore got to read and comment on it prior to publication. The report provides a comprehensive overview of global renewable energy sectors, breaking different categories down by total installed capacity and capacity added in 2010. It also ranks the global leaders for many categories. Renewable energy grew strongly in 2010, as the total global investment in renewable energy reached $211 billion, up 32% from the $160 billion invested in 2009. Globally, the capacity of various renewable energy categories at the end of 2010 was: Solar PV – 40 GW Wind… Continue»
Here are my choices for the Top 10 energy related stories of 2009. Previously I listed how I voted in Platt’s Top 10 poll, but my list is a bit different from theirs. I have a couple of stories here that they didn’t list, and I combined some topics. And don’t get too hung up on the relative rankings. You can make arguments that some stories should be higher than others, but I gave less consideration to whether 6 should be ahead of 7 (for example) than just making sure the important stories were listed. 1. Volatility in the oil markets My top choice for this year is the same as my top choice from last year. While not as… Continue»
Happy Thanksgiving to those who will celebrate it tomorrow. I plan to spend the long weekend with my family, and probably won’t be on here much. In the interim, two things. First is that it is about time to start thinking about the top energy stories of the year. As in year’s past, I would like reader’s opinions on the top energy-related stories of 2009. I will put up a post late in December with the ones that I think are most significant. Second, I present a guest post by Dr. Robert Cohen on ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC). Dr. Cohen has been an advocate of OTEC for many years, and has posted a guest essay here previously: Ocean Thermal… Continue»
Geox, a German energy company, is currently accused of causing earthquakes with their geothermal company.
In a recent post – It’s Always Something – I argued that for seemingly every renewable option, there is a trade-off. In that particular essay I was discussing a recent report that suggested that jatropha curcas – which I have written about as an intriguing option for renewable, liquid fuels – has very large water requirements. It is also poisonous, and was banned as an invasive species by the Western Australian State government. So as the title suggested, there always seems to be a catch with any of these options. Geothermal energy is one of the most promising renewable energy technologies. There are a number of commercial geothermal plants already in operation (the U.S. is the world leader in geothermal… Continue»
In the previous post I stated the geothermal – a very promising and cost-competitive source of alternative energy – doesn’t get the same kind of press coverage as wind or solar power. Ironically, I hadn’t realized that Google has just announced a >$10 million investment in advanced geothermal technology. It even got quite a bit of press coverage (probably due more to the ‘Google’ factor than anything). Scientific American has one of the better articles I have seen: Drilling for Hot Rocks: Google Sinks Cash into Advanced Geothermal Technology Some excerpts: For $1 billion over the next 40 years, the U.S. could develop 100 gigawatts (a gigawatt equals one billion watts) of electricity generation that emits no air pollution and… Continue»
There are several potential sources of alternative energy that I think are quite promising, but don’t get nearly the press of wind or solar power. Geothermal power is one. There are already a number of geothermal power plants in operation around the world, but you wouldn’t know it by the amount of press coverage. Iceland derives 20% of their electricity and nearly 90% of their heating from geothermal power, but in terms of total megawatts the U.S. is the world’s largest producer of geothermal energy (covered in a previous post here). Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) is another potential energy source that gets little press. Think of OTEC as a big heat pump that operates off of the temperature differences… Continue»