By: Deja Smith

What is geothermal?

Power generated from natural steam, hot water, hot rocks, or lava in the Earth crust.
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Benefits of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Is it renewable or non-renewable?

Geothermal energy is a renewable resource because the water is replenished by rainfall and the heat is continuously produced inside the Earth.

Where is geothermal found on Earth?

Geothermal resources are usually found along major plate boundaries where earthquakes and volcanoes are concentrated. Most of the geothermal activity in the world occurs in an area called the Ring of Fire. This area rims the Pacific Ocean.

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How does it work to produce energy for individuals?

Water or a refrigerant moves through a loop of pipes. When the weather is cold, the water or refrigerant heats up as it travels through the part of the loop that's buried underground. Once it gets back above ground, the warmed water or refrigerant transfers heat into the buildings. The water or refrigerant cools down after its heat is transferred. It is pumped back underground where it heats up once more, starting the process again. On a hot day, the system can run in reverse. The water or refrigerant cools the building and then is pumped underground where extra heat is transferred to the ground around the pipes.
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Who uses it?

When the temperature of a hydrothermal resource is around 50F and up, it can be used directly in spas or to heat buildings, grow crops, warm fish ponds, or for other uses. Hydrothermal resources suitable for heating occur throughout the United States and in almost every country in the world. Most of the people in Iceland and over 500,000 people in France use geothermal heat for their public buildings, schools, and homes. In the United States, geothermal heat pumps are used in 45 states to heat and cool homes and buildings. Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, and some other states use geothermal energy to heat entire districts.

Is it expensive?

Geothermal power plants can produce electricity as cheaply as some conventional power plants. It costs 4.5 to seven cents per kWh to produce electricity from hydrothermal systems. In comparison, new coal-fired plants produce electricity at about four cents per kWh.

kWh-Kilowatt hours