Geothermal energy comes from the natural heat of the Earth, and requires a ‘carrier’ (hot water or steam) at a shallow depth that can be drilled and pumped to generate heat or electricity (through a steam-driven turbine). It is estimated that geothermal energy could provide up to 8.3% of the global electricity demand, and thirty-nine countries could meet their electricity needs through geothermal resources alone. Geothermal technologies are capable of operating with zero greenhouse gas emissions at all times of the year and throughout the world.

Leading producers of electricity from geothermal resources are the United States of America, Italy, the Philippines, Indonesia and Mexico. The largest users of ‘direct use’ geothermal resources – where geothermal energy is used directly for heating and cooling – are China, the USA, and Sweden respectively.

There are two main types of geothermal resources: convective hydrothermal resources, where the Earth’s heat is carried by natural hot water or steam to the surface; and hot dry rock resources, where there is no possibility of extraction using water or steam, and other methods must be developed. Geothermal areas are categorised as low- and high-temperature fields, where high-temperature fields have temperatures over 180 degrees C and are found around tectonic plate boundaries where volcanic activity is high. Low-temperature fields can hold a range of resources, held as heat in rocks or from water travelling through faults and fractures.

Global Geothermal installed capacity

Installed capacity15.5GW

Geothermal installed capacity by region

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Top geothermal producing countries

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Geothermal installed capacity by region

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