Which Country Has Most Geothermal Plants?

Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. It is a clean, sustainable energy source that utilizes heated fluids from geothermal reservoirs found deep underground to produce renewable electricity and provide direct heating for various applications. Knowing which countries have the most geothermal power plants is an important indicator of which nations are leading the way in adopting this innovative renewable energy technology.

With rising energy demands, energy security concerns, and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, many countries are investing in geothermal power as a viable solution. Examining global geothermal energy usage can reveal rising adopters and innovators in the geothermal space. It also helps illustrate the vast potential of geothermal energy worldwide.

What is Geothermal Energy?

Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. It comes from the Greek words geo (earth) and therme (heat). Geothermal energy is a renewable source of energy that taps into the natural heat within the earth to produce heat and electricity.

Geothermal energy origins from radioactive decay in the earth’s core. As depth increases in the earth, so does temperature. Geothermal energy utilizes this heat by extracting hot water or steam from reservoirs beneath the earth’s surface. The hot water can either be used directly for heating or to generate electricity.

To generate electricity, geothermal plants pump hot water or steam from underground reservoirs to spin turbine generators. The used geothermal fluid is then returned to the reservoir. Geothermal power plants run 24/7, as the water flow is constant. If the reservoir is recharged by rainfall at the same rate as fluid extraction, geothermal energy can be fully sustainable.

The key benefits of geothermal energy include:

  • Renewable – Geothermal energy is constantly replenished.
  • Reliable – Available 24/7 and not dependent on weather conditions.
  • Sustainable – Geothermal reservoirs can be recharged by rainfall.
  • Eco-friendly – Very low carbon emissions compared to fossil fuels.
  • Versatile – Can be used for electricity generation, heating, and cooling.

Some drawbacks of geothermal energy include:

  • High upfront costs – Drilling geothermal wells is expensive.
  • Geographic limitations – Only effective in geologically active areas.
  • Land use – Geothermal sites require large areas of land.
  • Water pollution – Geothermal fluids can contain harmful chemicals.

Overall, geothermal energy is a clean, renewable energy source that provides consistent baseload power. With further technological improvements, geothermal has the potential to play a major role in the global renewable energy mix.

Countries with the Most Geothermal Plants

When it comes to countries with the most installed geothermal capacity, the top spots are dominated by nations with significant geothermal resources due to their location along tectonic plate boundaries or volcanic hotspots. Based on data from 2021, here are the top countries in the world for installed geothermal power capacity:

United States – With over 3,800 MW of installed capacity, the U.S. leads the world and generates the most electricity from geothermal energy. Major geothermal fields are located in western states like California, Nevada, Utah and Oregon.

Indonesia – As the country with the most active volcanoes due to its position along the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia has rapidly grown its geothermal capacity to over 2,000 MW. Significant potential remains to be tapped.

Philippines – The Philippines ranks third globally with about 1,900 MW of installed geothermal capacity. The country has benefitted from its location near tectonic plate boundaries.

Iceland – This volcanic island nation generates over 25% of its electricity from geothermal sources. Installed capacity stands at nearly 750 MW.

New Zealand – With over 1,000 MW of geothermal capacity, New Zealand produces about 17% of its electricity from geothermal energy from fields on the North Island.

The United States

The United States is one of the top countries utilizing geothermal energy. Currently, the installed geothermal capacity in the U.S. is over 3,800 megawatts across 21 states. The western states have the highest concentrations of geothermal plants due to the presence of excellent hydrothermal resources in the region.

California leads in geothermal capacity with over 2,700 megawatts installed. The Geysers geothermal field north of San Francisco is the largest geothermal plant complex in the world. Other top geothermal producing states include Nevada, Utah, Hawaii, Idaho and Oregon.

The U.S. has a long history with geothermal energy. The first geothermal power plant was built in 1922 in Beppu, Japan. In the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. underwent significant geothermal development. However, growth stagnated in the 1980s due to declining fossil fuel prices. In the early 2000s, geothermal growth picked up again due to technology improvements and renewable energy incentives and mandates.

The future for geothermal looks bright in the U.S. as the Department of Energy has set a goal to achieve 60 megawatts of enhanced geothermal systems by 2030. With continued innovation and supportive policies, geothermal power can provide clean, reliable energy for decades to come.


Indonesia has the second largest geothermal capacity in the world with over 2,000 megawatts installed as of 2020. The country has an estimated 29 gigawatts of potential geothermal resources due to its location along the “Ring of Fire” zone of active volcanoes and high seismic activity.

Some of the major geothermal fields in Indonesia are located in Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi islands, such as the Wayang Windu, Darajat and Kamojang fields in West Java which contribute around 800 megawatts of the country’s installed capacity. Indonesia first began developing its geothermal resources in the 1920s and its first geothermal power plant opened at Kamojang in 1978.

The Indonesian government has set ambitious goals for geothermal development, aiming for 7,200 megawatts of installed capacity by 2025 as part of its commitment to increase renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, experts say that a lack of transparency, uncertain regulations and land disputes have hindered growth so far. If these challenges can be overcome, Indonesia’s vast geothermal potential could play a major role in powering the country’s 264 million people in an environmentally sustainable way.

The Philippines

The Philippines ranks third globally in geothermal energy production. There are currently six geothermal power plants operating in the country with a total installed capacity of almost 2,000 megawatts. The geothermal fields are located in volcanic areas across the archipelago such as Tiwi and Makban in Luzon, Palinpinon in Negros Oriental, and Togokan in the Visayas.

Geothermal energy development began in the Philippines in the late 1970s. The country’s geology makes it an ideal location for geothermal power with more than 80 identified potential sites. The Bacon-Manito field located in Albay and Sorsogon provinces was the first geothermal power plant commissioned in 1979 with a capacity of about 200 megawatts. Since then, geothermal energy has continued to expand and now accounts for about 17% of the country’s total electricity generation.

The Philippine government has set ambitious goals to further develop geothermal energy in the coming years. The aim is to grow capacity to over 3,000 megawatts by 2022. This could establish the Philippines as one of the leading geothermal energy producers globally.


Iceland is one of the top producers of geothermal energy in the world. It generates over 25% of its electricity from geothermal sources. Iceland has taken advantage of its location on the volcanic Mid-Atlantic Ridge to develop extensive geothermal resources.

There are nearly 600 hot springs and over 200 volcanoes located across the island. This widespread availability of geothermal activity allows Iceland to generate geothermal power economically. There are currently six geothermal power plants operating in Iceland with an installed capacity of nearly 700 MW.

The Hellisheiði Power Station near Reykjavik is the largest geothermal power plant in Iceland with an installed capacity of 303 MW. The Svartsengi Power Station in the southwest region is the second largest at 282 MW. Other major plants include the Nesjavellir Power Station (120 MW) and the Reykjanes Power Station (100 MW).

Iceland first began using its geothermal resources for heating in the early 20th century. The country built its first geothermal power plant in 1969 at Namafjall in the north. Geothermal electricity production greatly expanded in the late 20th century as new technologies allowed for more economic utilization of Iceland’s resources.

Today, almost 90% of Iceland’s homes are heated with geothermal energy. The country’s extensive geothermal development has allowed it to become nearly self-sufficient for its energy needs. Iceland is considered a global leader and model for the use of geothermal resources.

New Zealand

New Zealand has a large number of geothermal power stations due to the country’s location along the Pacific Ring of Fire. As of 2022, geothermal power accounts for approximately 20% of New Zealand’s electricity generation capacity. There are over 250 high-temperature geothermal systems that have been identified across the North Island of New Zealand.

The largest geothermal power complex is the Wairakei power station located near Taupo on the North Island. Wairakei began operating in 1958 and was the first major geothermal power station in the world. The station has a capacity of 192 MW supplied by 18 production wells that draw from the Wairakei-Tauhara geothermal system.

Other major geothermal plants in New Zealand include the Ohaaki power station, Rotokawa, Nga Awa Purua, and Te Mihi. Many of these plants came online in the 1990s and 2000s as New Zealand expanded its use of renewable energy sources. The country has increased its geothermal generation capacity from under 500 MW in 2005 to over 1,000 MW today.

Geothermal energy is considered to be highly reliable in New Zealand. Capacity factors for geothermal plants often exceed 90%, meaning they provide consistent base load power generation. The New Zealand government has supported the development of geothermal resources through research grants, tax incentives, and other policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Future Outlook

Geothermal energy is projected to experience significant growth in the coming decades as countries continue to adopt renewable energy sources. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global geothermal power capacity is expected to grow by around 26% between 2019 and 2024. By 2040, the IEA projects installed geothermal capacity will reach about 22 GW worldwide, up from around 14 GW in 2019.

Several factors are contributing to this growth. First, more countries are looking to diversify their energy mixes with renewable sources like geothermal. This is driven by climate change mitigation efforts as well as energy security concerns. Second, geothermal technology continues to advance, making it more cost-competitive with fossil fuels. Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), for example, could unlock geothermal resources previously unreachable by conventional technologies.

Governments are also implementing policies and incentives to accelerate geothermal development. These include renewable energy targets, feed-in tariffs, tax credits, and research funding. The global geothermal industry has mobilized to support growth as well, with trade groups organizing conferences and events to facilitate knowledge-sharing and collaboration.

With its advantages as a stable, renewable baseload resource, geothermal is poised to play an increasing role in power supply globally. Countries with ample geothermal resources like those in East Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America are expected to ramp up development in the coming years. While growth rates may fluctuate year-to-year, the long-term trend points to exciting expansion opportunities for geothermal energy.


In summary, the United States has the most geothermal power plants in operation worldwide, with over 3.5 gigawatts of installed capacity. Indonesia comes in second with about 2 gigawatts of geothermal capacity. Other leading countries for geothermal power include the Philippines, Iceland and New Zealand. Geothermal energy shows promise for continued growth globally, as more countries tap into their internal heat resources as a renewable, clean energy solution that provides constant baseload power.

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