Geothermal

Kaitlyn & Kevin

How is Geothermal formed and used ?

In order to obtain enough energy to generate electricity , Geothermal power plants rely on heat that exists a few kilometers below the surface of the earth.The areas with the highest underground temperatures are in regions with active or geologically young volcanoes. These "hot spots" occur at tectonic plate boundaries or at places where the crust is thin enough to let the heat through. The Pacific Rim, often called the Ring of Fire for its many volcanoes, has many hot spots, including some in Alaska, California, and Oregon. Nevada has hundreds of hot spots, covering much of the northern part of the state.

These regions are also seismically active. Earthquakes and magma movement break up the rock covering, allowing water to circulate. As the water rises to the surface, natural hot springs and geysers occur, such as Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park. The water in these systems can be more than 200°C (430°F).

Advantages of Geothermal energy:

As our reliance on fossil fuels have started to increase, geothermal energy is seen as the new source of power generation by digging out the heat stored inside the earth. Though not used fully due to factors such as location and high costs but in the years to come when fossil fuels would start to diminish, it will turn out to be the cheapest source of power generation. Geothermal energy suffers from its own advantages and disadvantages as described below.

1. Significant Cost Saving : Geothermal energy generally involves low running costs since it saves 80% costs over fossil fuels and no fuel is used to generate the power. Since, no fuel is require so costs for purchasing, transporting and cleaning up plants is quite low.

2. Reduce Reliance on Fossil Fuels : Dependence on fossil fuels decreases with the increase in the use of geothermal energy. With the sky-rocketing prices of oil, many countries are pushing companies to adopt these clean sources of energy. Burning of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases which are responsible for global warming

3. No Pollution : This is one of the main advantage of using geothermal energy since it does not create any pollution and help in creating clean environment. Being the renewable source of energy, geothermal energy has helped in reducing global warming and pollution. Moreover, Geothermal systems does not create any pollution as it releases some gases from deep within the earth which are not very harmful to the environment

4. Direct Use : Since ancient times, people having been using this source of energy for taking bath, heating homes, preparing food and today this is also used for direct heating of homes and offices. This makes geothermal energy cheaper and affordable. Although the initial investment is quite steep but in the long run with huge cost saving it proves quite useful

5. Job Creation and Economic Benefits : Government of various countries are investing hugely in creation of geothermal energy which on other hand has created more jobs for the local people

Disadvantages of Geothermal energy:

Energy created from geothermal power is safe, clean, simple, reliable and environment friendly as it is extracted from deep within the earths surface. But despite these advantages, geothermal energy is not being used widely. Geothermal energy suffers from its disadvantages as described below.


1. Not Widespread Source of Energy : Since this type of energy is not widely used therefore the unavailability of equipment, staff, infrastructure, training pose hindrance to the installation of geothermal plants across the globe. Not enough skilled manpower and availability of suitable build location pose serious problem in adopting geothermal energy globally.

2. High Installation Costs : To get geothermal energy, requires installation of power plants, to get steam from deep within the earth and this require huge one time investment and require to hire a certified installer and skilled staff needs to be recruited and relocated to plant location. Moreover, electricity towers, stations need to set up to move the power from geothermal plant to consumer.

3. Can Run Out Of Steam : Geothermal sites can run out of steam over a period of time due to drop in temperature or if too much water is injected to cool the rocks and this may result huge loss for the companies which have invested heavily in these plants. Due to this factor, companies have to do extensive initial research before setting up the plant.

Where is Geothermal energy found most abundantly

Energy from the Earth What could be more natural or plentiful? The source of geothermal power is the heat contained inside the Earth; heat so intense that it creates molten magma. There are a few different types of geothermal energy that can be tapped. "Some geothermal systems are formed when hot magma near the surface (1,500 to 10,000 meters deep) directly heats groundwater." The heat generated from these hot spots flows outward toward the surface, manifesting as volcanoes, geysers, and hot springs . Naturally-occurring hot water and steam can be tapped by energy conversion technology to generate electricity or to produce hot water for direct use. "Other geothermal systems are formed even when no magma is nearby as magma heats rocks which in turn heat deeply-circulating groundwater." In order to maximize the energy gleaned from these so-called "hot dry rocks," geothermal facilities will often fracture the hot rocks and pump water into and from them in order to use the heated water to generate electricity.

Harmful effects

The areas with the highest underground temperatures are in regions with active or geologically young volcanoes. These "hot spots" occur at tectonic plate boundaries or at places where the crust is thin enough to let the heat through. The Pacific Rim, often called the Ring of Fire for its many volcanoes, has many hot spots, including some in Alaska, California, and Oregon. Nevada has hundreds of hot spots, covering much of the northern part of the state.

These regions are also seismically active. Earthquakes and magma movement break up the rock covering, allowing water to circulate. As the water rises to the surface, natural hot springs and geysers occur, such as Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park. The water in these systems can be more than 200°C (430°F).

Facts about Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is a renewable resource.


Geothermal energy is energy generated by heat stored beneath the Earth's surface.

Geothermal energy is often referred to as geothermal power.

Geothermal energy supplies less than 10 % of the world's energy.

Geothermal energy is clean and safe for the surrounding environment.

Geothermal energy is sustainable because hot water can be re-injected into the ground.

Geothermal energy is extremely price competitive in suitable areas.

Geothermal energy suitable areas aren't widely spread.

Geothermal energy is main energy source in Iceland.

Geothermal energy is very important energy source in volcanically active places such as new Zealand and Iceland.