Geothermal energy is a means of capturing natural heat from the earth. Renewable Energy World
explains that geothermal energy can be captured miles beneath the ground and can also be accessed in shallow ground. This heat energy is redirected through underground pipes and transformed into a usable form of natural energy. Renewable Energy World calls geothermal energy one of the best clean and sustainable energy sources available. According to RefrigerationSchool.com
, information from the EPA and DOE states that geothermal heat pumps are the most earth-friendly and inexpensive way to heat a home.
Saving Money With Geothermal Energy
Giving insight into why geothermal energy is so cost effective, it has been report that a geothermal system costs the homeowner only 20% as much as an electric furnace would. Another benefit to consumers is that most geothermal systems can last up to 50 years. Yet an additional appealing aspect is that homeowners become eligible for a 30% tax credit for installing a geothermal system.
Origins of Geothermal Energy
According to Energy.gov
, the first to use geothermal energy in North America were the Paleo-Indians. Over 10,000 years ago, these settlers at hot springs used geothermal energy as a source of natural cleansing and healing. They valued the hot springs for their therapeutic heat and rich source of minerals.
Energy.gov reports that the first large-scale application of geothermal energy occurred in 1864 after the Hot Lake Hotel in La Grande, Oregon was built. In 1892, the world’s first geothermal heating system was created in Boise, Idaho. They began pumping water in from the hot springs to give heat to local businesses. Today, Boise uses geothermal energy on a larger scale as heat is provided to over 5 million square feet of space.
By probing deep into the earth’s surface, scientists tap into the earth’s natural heat energy. According to Renewable Energy World, geothermal heat pumps operate by combining a heat pump, ductwork and an underground pipe system located near the building. In the wintertime, the heat is extracted from the heat exchanger and pumped indoors. This system also allows a means for hot water to be created, at no extra cost. In the summertime, the heat pump moves the heat out of the indoor air and captures it within the heat exchanger.
What Geothermal Energy Is Used for
Large-scale geothermal energy applications typically are established near natural geothermal reservoirs. Renewable Energy World indicates in the United States, most of these are found in the west, as well as in Alaska and Hawaii. In these locations, wells are drilled in order to create electricity for a power plant. Some plants use steam to power turbines; others use the water itself to run the turbine. Hot springs found close to the surface are used directly as a heat source. Renewable Energy World names these direct-use applications. They indicate that these systems are used to heat buildings, heat water, grow greenhouse plants and pasteurize milk.
Careers in Geothermal Energy
- Geothermal scientists are responsible for selecting drilling sites. They study maps and charts and travel to possible geothermal sites.
- Environmental scientists are another important element. They are responsible for helping plant developers comply with all environmental regulations, ensuring optimal protection of the ecosystem.
- Geologists are needed to identify the geologic composition of a drill site.
- Hydrologists are in charge of studying water cycles and are used to analyze groundwater.
- Wildlife biologists play the role of evaluating the effects of a geothermal plant, determining what effects it is having on local wildlife.
As the demand for sustainable energy is clearly on the rise, geothermal energy is sure to be used on a larger scale in the future. It is expected that geothermal will supply 10-20% of the world's energy source by 2050. And due to public awareness of clean energy, combined with the savings geothermal provides, it is sure to propel the use of geothermal energy forward.