Geothermal Energy – What is it, where is it, and how do we capture it?
What Is It?
According to the Geothermal Research Council, geothermal Energy is heat (thermal) derived from the earth (geo).
It is the thermal energy contained in the rock and fluid that fills the fractures and pores within the rock of the earth's crust.
Geothermal resources are reservoirs of hot water that exist at different temperatures and depths below the Earth's surface (source).
How do we access it?
Deep wells are drilled into underground reservoirs to tap steam and very hot water. The steam and hot water are then brought to the surface for use in a variety of applications, including electricity generation, direct use, and heating and cooling.
Below is an Al Jazeera English video that's a short and interesting summary of just how geothermal electricity works. Check it out!
This great Al Jazeera English video is a short and interesting summary of just how geothermal electricity works. check it out!
It is renewable — With proper management, the rate of energy extraction can be balanced with a reservoir's natural heat recharge rate.
It is reliable — Geothermal power plants produce electricity consistently, running 24 hours per day / 7 days per week, regardless of weather conditions. It also has the ability to produce more electricity over the same time period than coal, natural gas, nuclear or large hydro stations.
It has a small footprint—Geothermal power plants are compact; using less land per GWh (404 m2) than coal (3642 m2) wind (1335 m2) or solar PV with center station (3237 m2).*
It is clean — Modern closed-loop geothermal power plants emit no greenhouse gasses. Geothermal power plants consume less water on average over the lifetime energy output than the most conventional generation technologies.
It is versatile - Geothermal power facilities produce useful by-product heat that can be integrated with greenhouses, fish farms, and food processing; you can also directly drill for heat.
Where is it found?
Geothermal resources can be found all around the world, including significant resources in western and coastal North America. Click here for Energy Digital magazine’s list of the top ten countries by installed Mega Watt (MW) capacity.
Interested in learning more about geothermal? Coming soon we’ll take a closer look at how electricity is produced from geothermal energy.
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