Geothermal energy facts

Geothermal energy is renewable energy source. Some interesting facts about geothermal energy:

  • Geothermal energy is a form of renewable energy derived from heat deep in the earth’s crust.
  • Geothermal Energy has been around for as long as the Earth has existed. “Geo” means earth, and “thermal” means heat. So, geothermal means earth-heat.

“Geo” means earth, and “thermal” means heat.

  • Geothermal power is generated in over 20 countries around the world including Iceland, the United States, Italy, France, Lithuania, New Zealand, Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Russia, the Philippines, Indonesia, the People’s Republic of China and Japan.
  • The entire world resource base of geothermal energy has been calculated in government surveys to be larger than the resource bases of coal, oil, gas and uranium combined.
    For every 100 meters you go below ground, the temperature of the rock increases about 3 degrees Celsius. Or for every 328 feet below ground, the temperature increases 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • New facilities can produce electricity from geothermal energy for between 4.5 and 7.3 cents per kilowatt-hour, making it competitive with new conventional fossil fuel-fired power plants.
  • Iceland is situated in an area with a high concentration of volcanoes, making it an ideal location for generating geothermal energy. Over 26% of Iceland’s electrical energy is generated from geothermal sources. In addition, geothermal heating is used to heat 87% of homes in Iceland.Icelanders plan to be 100% non-fossil fuel in the near future.
  • Geysir - surface geothermal activity.
    Geysir – surface geothermal activity.

    Geothermal energy is called a renewable energy source because the water is replenished by rainfall, and the heat is continuously produced by the earth.

  • Even though geothermal energy is technically a finite resource, the typical lifetime for geothermal activity around magmatic centers – from 5,000 years to 1,000,000 years – is so long that it is considered a renewable resource.
  • A common way in which geothermal energy is obtained is through tapping into hydrothermal sites, also called geothermal springs. These sites are geologically active places where water seeps into the Earth’s crust and is heated by the Earth’s interior, rising to the surface as steam.
  • About 10,000 years ago, Paleo-Indians used hot springs in North America for cooking. Areas around hot springs were neutral zones. Warriors of fighting tribes would bathe together in peace.
  • Geothermal heating is a method of heating and cooling a building. It takes advantage of the natural stable warmth stored in the earth. Geothermal heating is flame-less, therefore producing no health and safety concerns as associated with fossil fuels.
  • Geologists use different methods to find geothermal reservoirs. The only way to be sure there is a reservoir is to drill a well and test the temperature deep underground.

Geothermal heating is used to heat 87% of homes in Iceland.

  • The most active geothermal resources are usually found along major plate boundaries where earthquakes and volcanoes are concentrated. Most of the geothermal activity in the world occurs in an area called the Ring of Fire. This area rims the Pacific Ocean.
  • Today, geothermal energy is utilized in three technology categories:
    • Heating and cooling buildings via geothermal heat pumps that utilize shallow sources
    • Heating structures with direct-use applications
    • Generating electricity through indirect use.
  • About 2850 megawatts of geothermal generation capacity is available from power plants in the western United States. Geothermal energy generates about 2% of the electricity in Utah, 6% of the electricity in California and almost 10% of the electricity in northern Nevada.

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