Seasoned observers of the international energy industry believe geothermal power is at the same stage today that offshore wind energy was 20 years ago.

And the evidence suggests it certainly has the potential to follow a similar exciting growth trajectory. The European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC) says 2010-20 was a decade of sustained growth in the sector, with 3.5 gigawatt electrical (GWe) of installed geothermal electricity across the continent at the end of that period. The EGEC has expressed confidence that this current decade will also witness rapid growth. The U.S. Department of Energy, meanwhile, has released a study that shows that geothermal electricity generation in the US could increase more than 26-fold by 2050.

Growing levels of investment in research and development activities suggest an increased industry appetite for making the economics of geothermal work. There are certainly stern challenges in that respect: the operational costs associated with drilling a geothermal well are acknowledged to be typically higher than those for a conventional oil well and achieving sustainable return-on-investment (ROI) levels remains a challenge.

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