FAQs on Where are Geothermal Power Plants Located Answered

Not all areas are excellent sites for geothermal power plants. Just because one community wants to harness the power of the heat coming from the Earth does not mean that it can automatically consider this kind of energy resource.

There are some restrictions in place, and most of the time there is a need for a geothermal feasibility study in order to determine if the area is indeed a good location for this renewable energy source. So where are geothermal power plants located?

Majority of the plants are located in countries belonging to the ‘Ring of fire’

Right now, a quick check on the top geothermal power plant locations reveals a pattern. Most of these locations are found in countries like the United States, the Philippines, New Zealand, Mexico, Italy, Iceland and Indonesia. These are the leading countries in the world that adopted geothermal electricity as one of their major energy sources. Most of these countries and the other nations listed in the list of top generators of geothermal-based electricity are all located in the in areas near tectonic plate boundaries or in areas where most of the earthquakes are regularly recorded. By some accounts, around 85 percent of these countries are located in the so-called ‘Ring of Fire’.

There is also substantial generation of geothermal energy in countries outside this ring and this can be seen in Italy and Iceland. It should be noted that Italy is the pioneer in the adoption of geothermal energy since this is the location of the first geothermal plant that was opened in 1904. Iceland on the other hand is popular since its electrical and heating requirements are usually taken from geothermal energy.

Current project feasibility studies for geothermal indicated that the ‘African Rift’ may be the next best locations for future geothermal projects. This area refers to the East Coast of Africa. What can be understood from this is that the possible locations for future geothermal projects should have resources like hot geothermal fluid with low mineral and gas content. And that the geothermal fluid temperature should not go below 300 Fahrenheit. Most of the countries under the ‘Ring’ have areas that carry geothermal fluids reaching the minimum targeted temperature. Other requirements in the installation of geothermal energy include presence of shallow aquifers that can produce and re-inject the fluid and the availability of make-up water that can be used for evaporative cooling.

In the search for possible locations for the plants, some exploration teams may use thermal imaging and electric and the magnetic imaging. Others are using shallow temperature prospecting in order to screen possible locations. Another option is to find the ratio of the Helium isotopes in ground water. If there is more Helium 3, then there is a chance that the area is suited for geothermal electricity production. Once the area has been selected, a number of other requirements should be considered including land and freshwater.

A typical geothermal plant will use 3.5 square kilometers per gigawatt of electrical production.

A plant may also use 20 liters of freshwater per MW-h.