Apr 19, 2013

Facts of Geothermal Energy

Asides from the Sun, the Earth's interior provides heat energy that can be effectively used for generating electricity. Yes, geothermal energy has been in existence since hundreds of years, however, extensive research has led to the possibility of tapping this renewable source of energy. The word geothermal is derived from two words, 'geo' and 'thermal'. Geo stands for 'Earth' and thermal is related to heat energy. So, geothermal energy is the energy that is generated inside the layers of the Earth's surface.


One of the most interesting geothermal energy facts is that it is generated deep within the Earth's surface. The Earth has three layers, the crust, the mantle and the inner core. Crust is the outermost part of the Earth's surface and it is this part that forms the continents and ocean floors. The thickness of this layer is usually between 3 to 5 miles under the oceans and between 15 to 35 miles on the continents. The mantle or the middle part surrounds the core and is nearly 1800 miles in thickness. Magma and rocks are the major constituents of this layer. The innermost layer or the inner core is divided into two cores, one is called the solid iron core and the other hot melted rock or magma. The Earth's crust is broken into a large number of pieces called plates. The hot melted rock or magma comes close to the edges of these plates and forms the volcanoes. The lava that comes out from a volcano is nothing but the magma. The deepest part of inner core contains magma at temperatures higher than the Sun's surface. The rocks and water found in the deep underground parts of the Earth's surface absorb heat from the magma. The temperature increases with an increase in the depth of the Earth's surface.

Where it is Found

Geothermal energy is hidden in the depths of the Earth's surface, however, it often finds its way out to the surface, in the form of volcanoes, geysers and hot water springs. Generally, the major sources of geothermal energy are the areas close to the major plate boundaries of volcanoes and earthquakes. The area, called a 'ring of fire', encircling the gigantic Pacific ocean is a very popular region for a lot of geothermal geysers and water springs. In the United States, geothermal reservoirs are found in the western states of Hawaii, Utah and Nevada etc. California holds the distinction for producing most electricity from geothermal energy. The US government has strict laws regarding the misuse of the lands in yellow stone national park where geysers and similar features are found.

More Information about Geothermal Energy
Some more interesting facts about geothermal energy are as follows.

  • Geologists test the presence of a geothermal reservoir, by drilling a well and recording the temperature deep beneath that place.
  • The entire resource of geothermal energy has been found to be more than that of coal, gas and uranium combined!
  • Iceland and Philippines produce 27% of the nation's electricity consumption by geothermal energy! They are the world leaders in geothermal energy production!
  • Sites where geothermal energy is tapped are called geothermal springs and in these places, water seeps into the Earth's surface and resurfaces as hot water!( the Earth's interior heats it!)
  • No fuel is consumed in producing geothermal electricity and the geothermal heating and cooling systems, so it is absolutely emission free.
  • The US government provides 'geothermal tax credit' that is a form of incentives to people saving electricity by installing geothermal heating and cooling systems
  • Geothermal plants emit 97% less acid content than fossil fuel plants!

Geothermal energy is considered to be a viable option for generation electricity, cooling and heating homes and is used in almost 20 countries of the world. Except for the high initial cost and space for installation, geothermal energy is an excellent alternative energy source.


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