Last couple of decades have seen various new sources of power generation to meet the rapid growth in demand for electricity to power industries and households across the world. Many renewable energy sources, including geothermal, have emerged as major alternatives to produce power in recent years, though coal continues to be a major source of electricity production.
Growing environmental concerns and depleting fossil fuel reserves have also led many countries to accelerate their shift to renewable energy. Geothermal power plants are considered as environmentally friendly as they emit lower levels of harmful gases compared to coal-fired power plants. The three main types of geothermal plants include dry steam power stations, flash steam power stations and binary cycle power stations. Geothermal power plants use steam turbines to produce electricity. According to a report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the world’s geothermal power capacity increased from 9.4GW in 2008 to 12.8GW in 2017.
Here is the list of top geothermal power producing countries:
US: With an installed capacity of 2,488MW in 2017, the US is the leading producer of geothermal energy across the world. Overall, the North American nation’s renewable energy stood at 229.9GW in 2017, according to IRENA report. The country is home of the world’s biggest geothermal power plant, the Geysers Geothermal Complex. Located about 121km north of San Francisco, California, the facility has a capacity of 1,517MW. Production from the field was started in 1960. Spread over an area of approximately 78km², the complex draws steam from more than 350 wells. The facility supplies power to Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Marin, and Napa counties.
Indonesia: The Asian nation recorded a geothermal power capacity of 1,950MW last year, according to IRENA report. Indonesia is home to two of the world’s biggest geothermal power plants, the Wayang Windu Geothermal Power Plant and the Darajat Power Station. Operated by Star Energy, the Wayang Windu Geothermal Power Plant is located in Pangalengan, approximately 40km south of Bandung City in the province of West Java, Indonesia. The first unit of the plant commenced operations in 2000. With an installed capacity of 259MW, the Darajat Power Station supplies power to provinces of Java and Bali in the country.
Philippines: The Southeast Asian nation’s geothermal power capacity stood at about 1,928MW in 2017, occupying third spot in the list of top geothermal power producing countries. The country is home to major geothermal power plants that include Makban Geothermal Complex and Tiwi Geothermal Complex. While the Makban Geothermal Complex has a capacity of 458MW, the Tiwi Geothermal Complex’s capacity is 289MW. Also known as Makiling-Banahaw Power Plants, the Makban Geothermal Complex is located in the municipalities of Bay and Calauan in the Laguna province and Santo Tomas, in the Batangas province, Philippines. It is owned by AP Renewables, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aboitiz Power. Covering an area of 700ha, the complex was commissioned in 1979.
Turkey: With an installed capacity of 1,064MW in 2017, Turkey occupies four spot in the list of top geothermal power producing countries. The Kızıldere Geothermal Power Plant is a major geothermal power plant in the country. With a capacity of 95MW, the plant is located at Kızıldere village of Sarayköy district in Denizli Province, southwestern Turkey. Kızıldere geothermal field is one of the high-potential geothermal field in the country.
New Zealand: In 2017, New Zealand’s geothermal power capacity stood at 986MW. Geothermal power makes a significant contribution to the country’s total power generation capacity. It accounts for about 13% of New Zealand’s electricity supply, according to NZ Geothermal Association. The country’s high-temperature geothermal fields are mostly present around the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The major geothermal power plants include the Wairakei Power Station, the Te Mihi Power Station, Nga Awa Purua Power Station and the Mokai Power Station.
Mexico: The South American country had a geothermal power capacity of 914MW by the end of 2017. Mexico is home the 720MW Cerro Prieto Geothermal Power Station, which features among the world’s biggest geothermal power facilities. It is owned and operated by the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE). The first plant at the station was commissioned in 1973. As of 2013, the power station had four plants, comprising of 13 units. The fourth plant at the Cerro Prieto Geothermal Power Station was commissioned in 2000.
Italy: With a capacity of 797MW in 2017, Italy is one of the top geothermal power producing countries in the world. Located in Tuscany, Central Italy, the Larderello Geothermal Complex, which consists of 34 plants, is one of the world’s biggest geothermal power plants. With reservoir depth ranging from 700m to 4,000m, the complex serves nearly two million families, 8,700 residential and business customers.
Iceland: The country’s total geothermal power capacity stood at 710MW in 2017. The Hellisheidi power plant is a major geothermal facility in the country. It is located at Mount Hengill, approximately 20km east of the capital city of Reykjavik. The power plant has a production capacity of 303MW of electric energy and 400MW of thermal energy. Power generated by the plant is delivered mainly to aluminum refineries located close to the power plant. Commissioned in five phases from 2006-2011, the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant is spread over an area of approximately 13,000m².