30+ Surprising Facts About Geothermal Energy

Lots of people have read documents and watched videos and podcasts about geothermal energy and its benefits. Geothermal energy truly comes with a myriad of benefits. It’s clean, affordable and sustainable energy resource. If you’re looking to invest in geothermal systems, it’s helpful to get to grips with the world of geothermal energy. We have alienated the task of going on a research spree by highlighting geothermal energy facts that might help in your investment decision.

Lets try to understand what is geothermal energy. As the name suggests, Geo means earth and thermal means heat. So geothermal energy is heat extracted from below the surface of the earth and used for various activities such as heating, cooling, bathing and therapeutic applications. Here are 30+ surprising facts about geothermal energy:

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  1. Geothermal is a renewable energy resource. Renewable energy is one that can replenish itself and will run until the end of time. Geothermal energy qualifies as a renewable resource since it originates from the internal heat of the earth and the water is continuously replenished by rainfall. The internal heat of the earth and rainfall are natural phenomenons and will continue to occur for the rest of time.
  1. It’s projected to be an industry worth a staggering $30 billion by 2020. Geothermal energy is rapidly gathering pace due to the shift to green sources of energy. The past few years have seen most governments investing heavily in geothermal to reduce the impacts of global warming. In 2011 alone, renewable energy subsidies stood at $88 billion worldwide.
  1. Geothermal heat pump systems carry impressive warranties. Almost all geothermal heat pump systems come with warrants of over 25 years. The working life of the inside components of geothermal heat pumps is about 25 years. The ground loop has a more incredible working life of over 50 years.
  1. Geothermal energy accounts for 25% of Europe’s electricity production. The European Geothermal Energy Council published a report in May 2014 stating that presently, 4,174 districts heating geothermal systems exist that operate in 3,731 cities throughout Europe. Geothermal energy has been greatly embraced in nations such as France, Germany, Netherlands, Hungary and much more.
  1. Geothermal energy has been tapped in the U.K. since the Roman times through the hot springs at Bath and other areas. Since that time, successful exploitations have occurred with cities like Southampton, Newcastle, Cornwall, and Eastgate heavily benefiting from the project.
  1. Although most people are tapping the geothermal heat for various functions like bathing, providing hot water for swimming pools and therapeutic functions, the greater percentage of the energy is harnessed to generate electricity and heat and cool homes.
  1. Geothermal energy is the main source of electricity in Iceland. Iceland has vast natural geothermal energy locations. In fact, 26% of the country’s electricity production comes from geothermal energy and 87% of homes in Iceland are heated by geothermal energy. Iceland is strategically located where volcanoes are prevalent, which makes it a prime destination for harnessing of geothermal energy.
  1. The United States ranks high among countries with most geothermal heat pump installations. In the U.S., nearly a million residential geothermal heat pumps have been installed. Each year, over 60,000 new geothermal heat pumps are installed.
  1. Geothermal is derived from two Greek words; Geo, meaning earth and therme, meaning heat. So, geothermal energy is heat derived from inside the earth.
  1. Geothermal energy is produced in more than 20 countries across the globe such as U.S., U.K., Iceland, France, Netherlands, Italy, New Zealand, China, Japan, Russia, Lithuania, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Philippines just to name a few.
  1. Approximately 10,000 years back, Paleo-Indians utilized hot springs found in North Africa for cooking. The areas around the hot springs were marked as neutral zones. Warriors of worrying tribes would bath together in the spring without commotion.
  1. The largest geothermal power plant in the world is the Geysers Complex, situated in the Mayacamas Mountains, 72 miles north of San Francisco, California. The geothermal complex consists of 22 geothermal power plants with a total installed capacity of 1520 MW.
  1. In the modern day, geothermal energy is used in 3 technology areas; heating and cooling buildings through geothermal heat pumps, generating electricity through geothermal power plants, and heating structures through direct direct-use applications.
  1. Geologists use a wide range of techniques to pinpoint the exact locations of geothermal reservoirs. But the surefire way is to drill a well and ascertain the temperature underneath.
  1. Approximately 2,850 megawatts of geothermal production capability is obtainable from power plants in the western United States. Geothermal energy production in Utah accounts for about 2% of electricity generation, California accounts for 6%, while Northern Nevada accounts for 10%.
  1. The oldest spa that taps its waters from a hot spring is considered to be a stone pool located at Lisan Mountain in China. It is believed to be built in the 3rd century BC.
  1. Some areas of Iceland utilize hot water runs from geothermal power plants under roads and pavements to assist melt ice.
  1. Scientists projects that the U.S. geothermal energy will contribute to 10% of the country’s energy by 2050.
  1. The most famous geothermal system on the globe is Yellowstone National Park Situated in the United States. Geothermal features in the park are about 10,000, including about 250 geyser eruptions every year. The largest geyser at Yellowstone is known as Old Faithful. It’s capable of shooting 14,000 to 32,000 liters of boiling water to an estimated height of 106 to 185 feet lasting up to 5 minutes.
  1. The heat tapped for geothermal energy production occurs 4,000 miles within the core of the earth and temperature there might reach 5000 degrees Celsius (9,000 degrees Fahrenheit). That temperature is way hotter than boiling water.
  1. Although some studies hold the view that geothermal energy is a limited resource, geothermal activity can typically range from 5,000 to 1,000,000 years, which qualifies it as a renewable resource.
  1. Tech giant Google recently entered the geothermal energy domain by bankrolling a research at Southern Methodist University to explore ways of harnessing its energy using modern technology.
  1. The first ever geothermal plant was set up in 1904 in Larderello, Italy. This geothermal plant still produces power as of this writing.
  1. According to U.S. government survey, the worldwide geothermal resource base is larger than gas, oil, coal, and uranium combined. When you’re utilizing geothermal energy for your heating and cooling, rest assured, you’ll enjoy the resource for many years to come.
  1. The state of Nevada makes the most use of geothermal energy in the United States. About 10% of electricity produced in this state comes from geothermal energy.
  1. Use of geothermal energy to heat and cool homes is the safest technique to offer high level of comfort since it doesn’t involve any form of combustion.
  1. Statistics according to the International Geothermal Association indicate that 10, 715 megawatts is presently being generated in 24 nations across the globe.
  1. In 2010, the United States topped the entire world in geothermal electricity generation with the installation of 3,086-megawatt capacity from 77 geothermal plants.
  1. Half of the cost of setting up a geothermal power plant is incurred in the drilling process.
  1. A conventional geothermal well capable of generating four and a half megawatts of power costs about $10 million to drill.
  1. Individuals can actually produce their own geothermal energy using areas that have plenty of hot rocks, but insufficient fluids to cause a reaction. By allowing fluids into nearby fractures, individuals are able to develop their own permeability. This technique is known as Enhanced Geothermal system.
  1. Three kinds of geothermal power plants exist today; dry steam, flash, and binary. Dry steam is the oldest kind of geothermal power plant. Binary, on the other hand, is the most popular.
  1. Geothermal energy sites cannot be entirely relied upon. There is a possibility of the site cooling down even after it has produced energy for decades.
References: ScienceKids , PlanetSave
Image credit: falco

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.