What is Geothermal Energy

If you ask people to name the different renewable sources of energy that are being used in the world today, you will find that most of them can name solar power, a lot of them are aware of wind power and some people will know about hydro power. These sources of energy represent the basics of sun, water and wind, but most people do not know about the source of energy that comes from the land.  They will probably have to ask: What is geothermal energy?

Where Do We Get Geothermal Energy

What is Geothermal EnergyThe heat that is generated at the core of the earth can be tapped and can be used to supply energy to people on the surface. On the surface of the land the temperatures can fluctuate widely, but deeper in the earth the temperatures will remain the same at all times.  The heat that is in the earth is a combination of the temperatures that were created when the earth was formed and the heat that is emitted by the radioactive decay that is always taking place.  Most of the geothermal energy is due to the original temperature of the earth at the time of creation. The history of geothermal energy goes back to the beginning of time.

Humans for long time have taken advantage of the hot springs that are created naturally because of the release of geothermal energy ever since they were first discovered.  It was not until the end of the 19th century that people began to use geothermal energy as a way to provide them with heat.  Some of the first use for this energy source was in greenhouses. The gases that contain the heat are tapped and directed into the buildings that need to be heated.

How Is This Energy Used

While heating buildings and swimming in a therapeutic spa are uses that have been around for a long time the use of geothermal energy to create electricity is fairly new. While it may be the newest use of this energy source, it might be the most valuable one. It is considered to be a cost effective way to generate electricity and can help meet the demands for electricity that people have.

The definition of geothermal energy means that it comes from the earth and that means it does have some limitations. The temperature will only go so high and will not reach the temperatures that boilers that use fossil fuels can reach.This means that the engines and generators that are run with geothermal energy are not as efficient as ones that use other fuel services are. The heat that is retrieved form the earth is directed into the turbines that will generate electricity. It is effective to generate electricity in this manner even though it not always efficient.

The good thing is that as more people learn what is geothermal energy and as it becomes more popular, researchers will continue to make it more efficient which will make it even more cost effective.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy

Geothermal EnergyWhen you find out how geothermal energy works, you will realize why it is a good way to generate power in the future. The first thing to realize is that the supply of geothermal energy is not going to run out in the near future. The energy that is created by radioactive decay will always renew the heat that is needed, and the core temperature of the earth is not going to change much either. New technology known as binary cycle power plants have made this method of producing energy much lower than other more traditional methods.

When geothermal energy was first put into use to generate electricity it was necessary to position the plants in specific locations. Most plants were built on the edges of tectonic plates to take the most advantage of the high temperatures that could be found there. As the efficiency of the geothermal power plants has increased the number of places that can be used has grown.

How Popular is Geothermal EnergyThere are some problems with geothermal energy besides the efficiency of generating electricity. Some of the geothermal energy facts that scare people include the release of gases that happen when the earth is being drilled into that can contribute to the greenhouse effect. This is one of the major problems when using fossil fuels as well. Another problem is that if there is too much drilling for geothermal energy in one area, it can cause the temperature in the earth to go down. The impact that comes from getting too much heat from one area needs to be carefully monitors to avoid losing the ability to generate electricity in any one spot.  While there is enough heat in the earth to supply the demand, most of it will not be tapped and when that happens, it could end up causing shortages at some point.

In the world right now there are 34 countries that are using geothermal energy to generate electricity. The percentage energy that is generated varies from less than 1% in the United States and Japan to 30% in Iceland. This is due to many factors buy much of it is because of the answer to the question: How does geothermal energy works?  Some parts of the world are in a better position to take advantage of this energy source while others such as the United States need such a large amount of electricity, that the amount generated by geothermal energy becomes only a small percentage even though the volume of electricity that is produced in the United States is actually much larger than other countries.

Despite some of the limitations of geothermal energy, it will still be used. As more people learn what is geothermal energy, they will find ways to take advantage of it.  It is very easy to design buildings that can be heated or cooled using the heat of the earth.  As people find out how to do it and it becomes more cost effective, the amount of geothermal energy that is used around the world is going to grow, but there will still be need for other renewable source of energy as well.