Geothermal Energy

The word geothermal originates from the Greek word for Earth (geo) and the Greek word for heat (therme). Geothermal energy comes from the heat within the Earth. Approximately 4,000 miles below Earth’s crust lies a layer of hot melted rock named magma. The magma produces heat due to the decay of radioactive particles like potassium and uranium and the absorption of solar energy at the Earth’s surface. geothermalWithin 33,000 feet of the Earth’s surface, this heat has 50,000 times the energy of all the natural gas and oil resources in the world. The hot water and steam from inside the Earth can be used to produce electricity and heat buildings. The energy from mineral springs has been used since the ancient times for heating, cooking, and bathing. Geothermal energy is a renewable resource because rainfall will replenish the water and the heat will continue to be made deep within the Earth. Geothermal energy is a sustainable, affordable, and environmentally friendly alternative to non-renewable and polluting fossil fuels.
Most areas that provide geothermal energy are hidden deep in the Earth. We are able to see some types of geothermal energy such as hot springs, geysers, and volcanoes. The most active places for geothermal energy are found near plate boundaries where there are volcanoes and earthquakes. Large areas of geothermal resources are known as geothermal reservoirs. The reservoirs that are in the United States are mainly located in Hawaii, Alaska, and the western states. Five percent of California’s electricity comes from geothermal heat.
Direct usage of geothermal energy consists of pumping hot water from the Earth’s surface into buildings for heat. This is called a district heating system. Directly using geothermal energy can also aid in growing fruits and vegetable and drying lumber. Electricity can be generated in a power plant using geothermal energy. This requires the steam or water to be at least 300 degrees Fahrenheit to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. The water or steam is obtained by drilling wells and piping it to the surface. These geothermal power plants are usually built in locations where there is a geothermal reservoir within one to two miles from the surface.
The top 10 feet of the Earth’s surface is where the temperature is a constant 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil temperatures are typically lower than the air in the summer and higher than the air in the winter. Geothermal heat pumps apply these constant temperatures to cool and heat buildings. These pumps carry heat from the water or ground to buildings in the winter. In the summer, the pumps will carry the coolness from the water or ground to homes and buildings. Pumping geothermal energy is the most cost-effective, environmentally clean, and energy-efficient way to control the temperature in homes and buildings.