Geothermal Energy Rises as A New Form of Sustainable Power
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - The centre of the Earth is around 6,000 degrees Celsius/10,832 F - easily hot enough to melt rock or create another type of renewable power called geothermal energy. In the renewable energy sector, solar and wind power have received the most attention, yet now the global market for geothermal power is growing rapidly. According to a recent report from the Geothermal Energy Association, over 700 projects are moving forward in 70 countries, with 11,766 megawatts of new capacity in the early stages of development or under construction. By the end of 2013, the global geothermal market is expected to operate 12,000 megawatts of capacity online.
Geothermal energy has been used for thousands of years in some countries for cooking and heating as the hot rocks underground heat water to produce steam. The first geothermal power station was built at Landrello, in Italy and the second was at Wairekei in New Zealand. In Iceland, geothermal heat is used to heat houses as well as for generating electricity. In the U.S., Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) projects that supply electricity to national grids have started up.
These EGS projects capture power from very hot rocks buried thousands of feet below the surface, which uses technologies such as directional drilling and pressurized water to enhance flow paths from the subsurface rock to create new reservoirs, capturing energy from resources that were previously considered uneconomical to recover. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that EGS projects in the U.S. have the potential to add 100 to 500 gigawatts of geothermal resource capacity to U.S. production.
Essentially, geothermal energy is widely available everywhere, yet because the earth’s heat cannot be transported, the way forward is to search for sources of this energy globally. For example, there are regions, like Central America, where it is easy to tap into geothermal energy and any country with active volcanic regions, such as Indonesia, are perfect candidates. In many countries, geothermal power is one of the primary sources of energy. China is the world’s geothermal leader followed by Sweden, the U.S and in fourth place is Iceland.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in 2011 stated that geothermal potential is so great, it almost can’t be measured. If that’s the case, then geothermal energy really should be one of our key options in the future, when we think about sustainable energy. We should definitely add it to the list of renewable resources that will be able to power our years ahead.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia