Solution: Geothermal EnergyEdit

Overview Edit

Geothermal energy ultimately comes from radioactive decay in the core of the Earth, which heats the Earth from the inside out, and from the sun, which heats the surface. It can be used in three ways:

  • Geothermal electricity
  • Geothermal heating, through deep Earth pipes
  • Geothermal heating, through a heat pump.

Usually, the term 'geothermal' is reserved for thermal energy from within the Earth.

Geothermal electricity is created by pumping a fluid (oil or water) into the Earth, allowing it to evaporate and using the hot gases vented from the earth's crust to run turbines linked to electrical generators.

The geothermal energy from the core of the Earth is closer to the surface in some areas than in others. Where hot underground steam or water can be tapped and brought to the surface it may be used to generate electricity. Such geothermal power sources exist in certain geologically unstable parts of the world such as Iceland, New Zealand, United States, the Philippines and Italy. The two most prominent areas for this in the United States are in the Yellowstone basin and in northern California. Iceland produced 170 MW geothermal power and heated 86% of all houses in the year 2000 through geothermal energy. Some 8000 MW of capacity is operational in total.

Geothermal heat from the surface of the Earth can be used on most of the globe directly to heat and cool buildings. The temperature of the crust a few feet below the surface is buffered to a constant 7 to 14 °C (45 to 58 °F), so a liquid can be pre-heated or pre-cooled in underground pipelines, providing free cooling in the summer and, via a heat pump, heating in the winter. Other direct uses are in agriculture (greenhouses), aquaculture and industry.

Although geothermal sites are capable of providing heat for many decades, eventually specific locations cool down. Some interpret this as meaning a specific geothermal location can undergo depletion, and question whether Geothermal is renewable.

Small scale geothermal heating can also be used to directly heat buildings: there are many names for this technology including "Ground Source Heat Pump" technology, and "Geoexchange". (

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