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IRENA, IGA and WB to work on pilot geothermal energy project on Flores Island

Ulumbu Geothermal Power Plant in Manggarai Regency, Flores (Photo credit: Special)

JAKARTA ( – The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the International Geothermal Association (IGA) and the World Bank have agreed to cooperate in resources data gathering and classification in order to streamline geothermal investments and facilitate more projects around the world.

Piloting the initiative will involve authorities at the national level in four countries with strong geothermal ambitions applying the UNFC to all geothermal projects in their country, and will include developing a near holistic picture of geothermal potential including maps and tables in IRENA’s Global Atlas for Renewable Energy platform.

The project will begin by reviewing and classifying the identified geothermal projects and resource estimates of Flores — an Indonesian island in the East Nusa Tenggara province with 14 different geothermal projects, representing significant geothermal development activity. The East Nusa Tenggara Province is among regions that have the lowest electrification ratio in Indonesia.

A number of geothermal projects are being explored and developed in the island, with one project, Ulumbu geothermal power plant in Manggarai Regency, has already started operating its first phase development. Indonesia is the country that has the largest geothermal energy potential in the world with estimated resources of 27GW.

“Countries can expect a more robust and reliable set of procedures when screening a potential site for setting up geothermal energy projects, thanks to new geothermal resource data gathering and classification efforts being piloted by IRENA, the International Geothermal Association (IGA) and the World Bank, with the support of the Global Geothermal Alliance,” IRENA said in a statement.

The specifications of the United Nations Framework Classification (UNFC) to Geothermal Energy Resources and Reserves provides a harmonised framework to qualify estimates of extractable geothermal energy by projects — taking into account economic viability, technical feasibility and geological confidence — that will help stimulate geothermal investments in countries where it is applied.

“Geothermal energy is fully recognised as a stable, reliable source of energy that can power economic development without contributing to climate change. As a result, globally we have seen a growing demand for geothermal projects and growing need for initial appraisals of potential sites for geothermal power, heat and other direct uses,” says Henning Wuester, Director of IRENA’s Knowledge, Policy and Finance Centre.

“Through collaboration between IRENA, the IGA and the World Bank we expect to develop and promote transparency and standardisation in the way resource assessments are conducted, reviewed and reported to promote a better understanding of the true potential and value of geothermal prospects,” Wuester explains.

In September 2017, countries of the Global Geothermal Alliance, an IRENA initiative, agreed to work together to identify and implement measures to significantly increase the speed of geothermal energy development through the Florence Declaration.

Standardisation of geothermal resource estimates in countries is key to achieving this, as it provides clarity to investors, regulators, governments and consumers — critical when considering development opportunities at both project, company and national level.

“The UNFC system, when applied, is expected to foster an easier understanding of the geothermal resource base in most countries and facilitate effective valuation of geothermal fields, and as a consequence, increase access to finance for investments in the sector,” adds Abdulmalik Oricha Ali, IRENA’s coordinator for the project.

Since its official endorsement by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Committee on Sustainable Energy in 2016, the UNFC Geothermal Specifications have only been applied to single project case studies in just a few countries, but the new collaboration will see the classification for the first time applied to whole countries. (*)

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