What is Geothermal Energy? Geothermal energy is heat energy that originates from the molten interior
of the earth. Temperatures hotter than the sun's surface are continuously produced inside the earth by the slow decay of radioactive particles,
a continuous process that happens in all rocks. In areas where this molten material is close enough to the surface, the heat energy can be harnessed
and used to produce steam to turn turbines to generate electricity.
Geothermal heat pumps. Geothermal (or gound-source) heat pumps use horizontal piping placed about five feet below the
surface (homes / small buildings) or vertical shafts about 165 feet deep usually into rock (larger buildings, schools, etc.). Air or anitfreeze liquid
is pumped through those pipes where it is warmed in winter and cooled in summer by the constant 50 - 57 degree F temperature surrounding the pipes.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), geothermal heat pumps are the most energy efficient, environmentally clean, and cost effective
systems for temperature control.
Geothermal systems typically return their higher purchase and installation costs in ten or less years and are considerably more efficient and less expensive to operate than most non-geothermal systems.
Below are links to examples of geothermal systems used in homes, businesses, schools, etc.
More about Geothermal:
This Geothermal power plant in
Reykjavik, Iceland, is using their underground reservoirs of steam and hot water to generate electricity and to heat and cool buildings directly.
Geothermal energy is generated
in over 20 countries. The United States is the world's largest producer, and the largest geothermal development in the world is ...
Read More >>
Text and photo courtesy of National Geographic