Expanding Carib renewable energy

The World Bank on Mar. 5 called for a major international effort to expand renewable power generation in the Caribbean and other developing countries by tapping “an underutilized resource,” geothermal energy.

World Bank Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati called on donors, multilateral banks, governments and the private sector to join a “Global Geothermal Development Plan (GGDP)” to better manage and reduce risks of exploratory drilling to bring what is now a marginal renewable energy source into the mainstream, and deliver power to millions.

“Geothermal energy could be a triple win for developing countries: clean, reliable, locally-produced power. And once it is up and running, it is cheap and virtually endless,” said Indrawati, in launching the plan at the Iceland Geothermal Conference in Reykjavik.

He said the World Bank Group, and many of our partners, support the goals of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, led by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

The World Bank said two of those goals are universal access to modern energy services, and doubling the world’s proportion of renewable energy.

Indrawati said geothermal energy, mobilized by the “Global Geothermal Development Plan,” will be “a major step towards both.”

He said the World Bank and Iceland are already working together under a “Geothermal Compact” to support surface exploration studies and technical assistance for countries in Africa’s Rift Valley.

Indrawati said many developing countries are rich in geothermal resources, stating that at least 40 countries have enough geothermal potential to meet a significant proportion of their electricity demand.

The World Bank said the GGDP expands on previous efforts by its global scope, and its focus on test drilling.

It said the GGDP will identify promising sites and leverage financing for exploratory drilling, to develop commercially viable projects.

“Until now, our work has been at the country and regional levels,” Indrawati said.

“These efforts are important, and should continue. But a global push is what is needed now,” he added.

“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,” he continued. “It will let us learn from each other, from our failures and successes, and apply that learning.”

The World Bank said the GGDP’s initial target is to mobilize US$500 million.

It urged donors can participate in the GGDP by helping to identify viable projects, and through bilateral assistance, as well as existing channels, such as the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) or the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The World Bank said it will convene donors later this year to discuss financing of specific geothermal projects under the plan.

It said its financing for geothermal development has increased from US$73 million in 2007 to US$336 million in 2012, and now represents almost 10 percent of the bank’s total renewable energy lending.

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