Geothermal, the hidden treasure that will give energy to Mexico

The country is sixth in the world ranking of geothermal energy capacity. In addition, to receive a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Geothermal, the hidden treasure that will give energy to Mexico

Geothermal energy is the energy that comes from the core of the earth in the form of heat extracted through the fissures of rocks in the layers of the earth's crust. For the year 2012, 2 billion dollars were invested in geothermal energy, most of them in developed countries that benefit from the low cost of technology for the generation of geothermal energy compared to solar and wind energy. It has a growth projection of 27.9% by 2035, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Leer en español: Geotérmica, el tesoro escondido que dará energía a México

Around the world, approximately 40 countries have geothermal resources to meet their energy needs according to World Bank data. That, together with other international financial institutions, work on projects that help developing countries to take advantage of their geothermal potential. Geothermal energy is low in carbon emissions and can offer a basic load of reliable and sustainable energy. However, development has been held back by high risk and exploration and drilling costs

Global picture

According to estimates by the International Energy Agency, by 2050 geothermal energy could represent 3.5% of world electricity production, with 200 GW of installed capacity, avoiding 760 million tons of CO2 emissions every year. For its part, a World Bank report expects global accumulated geothermal capacity to increase to almost 17 GW by 2021 – in 2016 exceeded 13 GW – and the largest increases will be registered in Indonesia, Turkey, the Philippines, and Mexico.

The challenge is in mitigating risks to unlock the initial investment needed to develop geothermal energy on a large scale. The case of Mexico is important since it is the only country in Latin America that occupies a position in the ranking 2018 (# 6) of "Countries with installed geothermal generation capacity" developed by Think Geoenergy.

Mexico, 6th in geothermal energy

In 2014, according to data from the UNAM Energy Research Center, Mexico was the fourth country in the world with the largest production of geothermal energy, with an installed capacity of 958 MW that contributed 7% of the total world production. Above was the United States, the Philippines, and Indonesia. However, at the close of 2017, Turkey and New Zealand were placed in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Mexico is the main emitter of greenhouse gases in Latin America and 12th in the world. In addition, 80% of energy in Mexico continues to be generated from fossil fuels, so it is necessary to transform the country's electricity generation system to make it more profitable. The Latin American country has one of the largest geothermal fields in the world: Cerro Prieto, in Baja California, with an installed capacity of 620,000 KW of electric power.

Maybe you are interested in reading: Renewable energies: From Utopia to a real possibility for Latin America

In addition, there are 38 countries, including Mexico, that make up the Global Geothermal Alliance, in order to help countries use geothermal energy and reach the year 2030 with an increase of 500% in the generation of electricity and 200 % in the production of thermal energy, based on geothermal energy as sustainable energy.

"Drilling a hole for thermal energy costs around 10 million dollars and if you dig on the wrong side, you lost everything," says Shaun Maloney, CEO of Seequent, a New Zealand company that offers solutions for energy exploitation around the world and that since its creation in 2004 has a great relationship with Mexico. The company developed a 3D geological modeling software called Leapfrog based on an algorithm that literally allows seeing the different layers of soil before drilling.

For 2018, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved the modification of a loan for a total of $ 108.6 million with the objective of increasing private investment in electricity generation projects from geothermal sources in Mexico. The program aims to finance up to 300 MW of geothermal capacity in 10 years and expects to move public and private funds to contribute to the development of geothermal energy with estimated investment levels in the order of $ 4.2 billion for proven reserves of the geothermal resource.


LatinAmerican Post | Diana Carolina Ramos Moreno

Translated from 'Geotérmica, el tesoro escondido que dará energía a México'

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