Historical Pattern Analysis of Global Geothermal Power Capacity Development

Volkan Ediger, Sertac Akar

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Between 1913 and 1958, Italy was the only country with an operational geothermal power plant until New Zealand installed its first plant in 1958. At present, 24 countries are involved in the geothermal power market, and they have a combined installed capacity of 16,127 GW. This study analyzes the historical patterns of geothermal power capacity in the world and in individual countries to investigate the ideal global geothermal development pattern by examining the annual cumulative capacity (ACC) and the annual capacity addition (ACA) graphs of the historical development of geothermal power capacity in 24 countries. First, the global patterns are analyzed using these graphs in five periods (1945-1957, 1958-1976, 1977-1991, 1992-2002, and 2003-2020) that are marked by a series of characteristics of ACA peaks separated by two major troughs. Then, five characteristic patterns are developed in five periods globally. These patterns correspond to the early-stage linear, the first acceleration, the first steady-state linear, the second acceleration, and the second steady-state linear developments. A positive relationship exists between global patterns and the 5-year shifted oil-price curve: two major factors influenced global development: 1) increasing oil prices and increasing awareness of global climate change, and 2) global development of geothermal power. Last, we investigate these patterns in each country. The top ten countries, which comprise 93.3% of the world's total installed capacity are separated into five groups based on the availability and characteristics of patterns globally developed in five periods. Group-1 (the United States) has an installed capacity of 3,794 MW, Group-2 (Mexico and Philippines) 963-1935 MW, Group-3 (New Zealand, Italy, Iceland, and Japan) 601-1,037 MW, and Group-4 (Indonesia, Kenya, and Turkiye) 944-2,356 MW. The remaining 14 countries (6.7%), which are called Group 5, are still in an immature stage and have installed capacities of 7-262 MW and are not involved in pattern analysis. Overall, geothermal power in the world is in its third stage of development, which had its peak development after 1977. A fourth development peak may be expected to occur after this through business-as-usual cases. The biggest barrier to the development of the global geothermal power market is the risk associated with exploration and drilling. If risk mitigation systems and funds are employed, the growth of geothermal power production projects could accelerate.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages28
StatePublished - 2023
EventGeothermal Rising Conference - Reno, NV
Duration: 1 Oct 20234 Oct 2023


ConferenceGeothermal Rising Conference
CityReno, NV

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-7A40-86996 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-7A40-88730


  • geothermal power plants
  • historical development
  • installed power
  • pattern analysis
  • sustainable exploitation


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