FAO Report Recommends Increased Geothermal Use in Agricultural Sector
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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has released a report showcasing the potential uses of geothermal energy for food production and processing in developing countries.

According to the report, 'Uses of Geothermal Energy in Food and Agriculture: Opportunities for Developing Countries,' heat generated from geothermal energy can be used in many activities, including drying foods, pasteurizing milk, sterilizing produce, as well as heating greenhouses, soils, and water for fish farming.

FAO7 April 2015: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has released a report showcasing the potential uses of geothermal energy for food production and processing in developing countries. According to the report, titled ‘Uses of Geothermal Energy in Food and Agriculture: Opportunities for Developing Countries,’ heat generated from geothermal energy can be used in many activities, including drying foods, pasteurizing milk, sterilizing produce, as well as heating greenhouses, soils, and water for fish farming.

As explained in the report, many developing economies lose as much as half their harvest, in part due to a lack of affordable energy for food processing. Developing countries, especially those in the ‘Ring of Fire’ along the Pacific Plate, can increase their food security by using their abundant geothermal resources to process foods for a longer shelf life, according to FAO.

Commenting on the benefits of geothermal as a clean, renewable energy source, Carlos da Silva, FAO Rural Infrastructure and Agro-Industries Division, pointed out that integrating it into the agricultural sector can reduce the environmental and climate impacts of food production and processing. Geothermal has traditionally been used for electricity generation, but the report records the ample opportunities that exist in the agricultural sector, providing examples from, among others, Iceland, Algeria and Thailand.

Given the often high upfront investments required to develop geothermal resources, as well as policy, regulatory and technical barriers, the report recommends active involvement of the public sector through fiscal incentives, resource management, coordination of donor funding and bilateral borrowing, facilitation of exploration and research and guaranteed concessionary lending.

The examples provided in the report demonstrate that the remaining challenges are not insurmountable. In addition, the report highlights that many direct-use opportunities do not require high-cost exploration and exploitation. [FAO Press Release] [UN Press Release] [FAO Publication Webpage] [Publication: Uses of Geothermal Energy in Food and Agriculture: Opportunities for Developing Countries]

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