Did you know that geothermal energy is considered one of the most sustainable types of energy? As fossil fuels make up at least 80% of our energy consumption, geothermal energy alleviates the number of toxins that circulate in our atmosphere and enter into our bodies. Check out these interesting geothermal energy facts and examples that will rock your world.
What Is Geothermal Energy?
Geothermal energy is energy derived from the Earth’s internal heat. This heat is generated by the radioactive decay of minerals and the continual heat loss of the Earth’s core. The heat from the core continuously radiates outward, warming rock, water, and other geological material. There are several interesting geothermal energy facts.
It Has Fewer Environmental Impacts Than Fossil Fuels
Geothermal energy doesn’t require burning fuel. Though geothermal energy carries a small amount of greenhouse gases, its environmental impact is much lower than fossil fuels for the following reasons:
- It can be extracted without burning fossil fuels.
- Geothermal fields produce only about one-sixth of the carbon dioxide compared to a natural gas-fueled power plant.
- The volume of water taken out can be reinjected back into the earth, making it a renewable energy source.
- It consumes less water on average than most conventional power plants.
It Provides Heating/Cooling and Electricity Generation
Geothermal energy has two purposes: to provide heating/cooling and electricity. Using resources below the Earth helps us use 75% less energy than traditional heating and cooling systems.
It Generates Spectacular Displays of Natural Phenomena
You’ve probably seen or heard of lava flows, geysers, fumaroles, and hot springs. These are natural displays of geothermal energy. For example, hot springs are heated by geothermal heat. When water comes into contact with hot rocks deep in the Earth’s crust, it can rise to the surface to form springs.
California Holds the Largest Geothermal Plant
The Geysers Geothermal Complex (located north of San Francisco, California) is the largest geothermal installation in the world. It also generates an amount of more than 60% of the electrical needs of the entire northern coastal region from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border.
It Produces Electricity Consistently
Geothermal plants produce electricity 24/7. It very well meets the minimum requirements of an electrical grid, making it a reliable and stable form of energy.
It Carries a High Growth Potential
Within the next 50 years, geothermal energy has the potential to have an installed capacity of 100,000 megawatts.
It’s Not Quite Competitive with Wind and Solar Energy
The high cost and levels of uncertainty involved in investigating potential geothermal sites makes it less competitive with wind and solar energy. Though geothermal energy may not be the first in line, once the plants are built, the consistency of electrical output pours in.
Where is Geothermal Energy Used?
Seen in many areas around the world, here are geothermal energy examples of where you can find this renewable resource.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is the home of 60% of the world’s geysers. Thus, it’s no surprise that it’s a popular vacation destination for many people around the globe, offering fascinating views of these natural phenomena that spout water and steam. Castle Geyser, Old Faithful Geyser, and Beehive Geysers are just a few of the popular springs in Yellowstone National Park.
Many travelers flock to Iceland to bathe in their popular hot springs and see natural marvels such as volcanoes. Iceland has been known to be a major proponent of geothermal energy for its heat and electricity. Geothermal sources account for 66% of Iceland’s primary energy use.
Geothermal energy heats and cools thousands of homes and buildings across the U.S. Through heat exchangers, heat pumps, and power plants, heat is pulled beneath the Earth’s surface and into our living spaces. And during the warmer months, the pipes draw heat away from the home and then the heat is absorbed back into the ground.
How Do Engineers Use the Earth’s Heat to Create Geothermal Energy?
The production behind geothermal energy is fascinating. Deep wells are created by drilling into underground reservoirs to access steam and very hot water that is pulled out to the surface of the Earth. These are used to generate electricity and heating and cooling.
There are different types of power plant technologies that convert geothermal resources into electricity:
- Dry steam – The steam travels directly to a turbine which drives the generator.
- Flash steam – The most common type of production used today, flash steam fluids are pumped under high pressure into a tank, causing some of the fluid to quickly vaporize, or “flash.” The vapor pushes turbines which drive the generator.
- Binary – Binary cycles require a secondary fluid to flash the vapor, which drives the turbines and generators.
Geothermal power plants are located near geologic hot spots, or places where rocks melt to generate magma. In the U.S., most of the power plants are located in the western states and Hawaii.
This renewable energy has been consistent and expanding in recent years. Thus, understanding these geothermal energy examples and facts will help you find more options and ways to incorporate greener alternatives in your lives.
Kiwi Energy is an energy retailer dedicated to reducing carbon footprints. Contact us today to learn more about making greener choices and building a sustainable future.