Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Latin America: Long Article on Different Approaches to Geothermal Development

Will a geothermal experiment in Costa Rica and Mexico overcome the industry’s dark past? (Power Struggle)

Mexico and Costa Rica are both leading Latin America’s drive to develop geothermal energy, expanding on a growing base of existing projects — and taking two very different paths to clean power.

The heat of the Earth delivers a clean, inexhaustible supply of energy from a string of mountains and active volcanoes that trace the Pacific coastline from Alaska to Chile.

Tapping this energy source could be an efficient and affordable way to power the future of Latin America — a group of countries with common language roots including Mexico in North America, Central America (except Belize) and South America.

For decades, Costa Rica and Mexico, the region’s two geothermal leaders, have embraced the technology, which is, as of this writing, nowhere near its potential. The region uses no more than five per cent of the estimated 300 terawatt-hour (TWh) per year of geothermal, according to reports released by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the World Bank. (To put that figure in perspective, 300 TWh is more than the yearly electricity consumption of Mexico and Costa Rica combined.)

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