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World Bank calls for global geothermal energy initiative

Walking out of Keflavik airport as the arctic breeze hit my face at 50 km per hour, I thought to myself, “I love my job.”

Sri Mulyani Indrawati-Iceland-2012These words are from a recent blog of Mrs. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director of the World Bank, following her visit to Iceland. There, Sri Mulyani was a keynote speaker at at the Iceland Geothermal Conference, which took place in Reykjavik on March 5-8. Roughly 600 participants, delegates, and exhibitors attended the conference to discuss changes and forward thinking within the energy industry, with 55 presentations given by global figureheads within the industry.

The Geothermal Conference has helped carry a positive message for the possibilities within the green energy industry. A major obstacle for geothermal projects has been the initial test drilling phase, which can be very expensive and risky. By its new Global Geothermal Development Plan (GGDP), the World Bank hopes to attract more investment into geothermal exploration.

The focus of the GGDP is on geothermal opportunities in the developing world. Many developing world regions are rich in geothermal resources, including East Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America, and the Andean region. The GGDP will bring together donors and multilateral lenders around an investment plan to scale up geothermal power, with the goal of developing a pipeline of commercially-viable projects that are ready for private investment.

Geothermal-plant-illustrationPromising sites will be identified and exploratory drilling financed, with the aim of developing commercially viable projects.  The Plan’s initial target is to mobilize USD 500 million. Donors can participate by identifying viable projects, and through bilateral assistance, as well as by contributing to existing channels such as the Climate Investment Funds (CIF’s) or the Global Environment Facility (GEF).  The GGDP will be managed by the World Bank’s longstanding Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP).

The World Bank and Iceland are already working together to support surface exploration studies and technical assistance for countries in Africa’s Rift Valley. This cooperation includes project financing of geothermal exploration in thirteen East Africa Rift Valley by the Icelandic International Development Agency (ICEIDA) and the Nordic Development Fund (NDF).

Iceland-Geothermal-power-plant-1The GGDP expands on previous efforts by its global scope, and will build on regional efforts such as the coopertaion between Iceland and the World Bank. “Until now, our work has been at the country and regional levels,” Sri Mulyani said. “These efforts are important, and should continue.  But a global push is what is needed now. Only a global effort will put geothermal energy in its rightful place – as a primary energy source for many developing countries.  Only a global effort will pool resources to spread the risk effectively. It will let us learn from each other, from our failures and successes, and apply that learning.”

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