Geothermal energy is getting attention as we look to alternative energy sources for our power-hungry world. Here is a brief overview of geothermal energy.
Geothermal Energy – the Overview
There are many different types of energy available to power our world. People have used the power of burning fossil fuels for years and this would include coal, which is also used to produce steam power, to create energy. In recent times, you will notice that there is a shift when using renewable resources in order for the energy we need to be created. Hydroelectric power, solar power, wind power, biomass energy, and geothermal energy are included in these resources. While many people know about the first four of these resources, geothermal energy is less well-known.
The word geothermal comes from two Greek words, “geo” and “there”. The meaning of these words is earth and heat and this also describes what geothermal is. From the heat of the Earth deep underground comes energy and this is referred to as geothermal energy. Chemical reactions create massive amounts of heat in the Earth’s core and it is about 4,000 miles below the Earth’s surface. Reaching up to 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit are the temperatures in this core and this extreme heat can then be used to produce energy.
There are many other parts in the process to make this sort of energy usable even though these are the basics of geothermal energy. We can’t tap directly into the Earth’s core to receive this heat, for many reasons. Instead, creating systems that harness the residual heat that is in the magma (molten rock) under the Earth’s crust is what people can do. By tapping into the water reservoirs that are within the magma, this heat is able to be used and these water stores can reach up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Old Faithful in Yellowstone may come to mind.
A well can be drilled down into the superheated water contained within the Earth’s magma – the geothermal reservoir. The heated water and steam can rise to the surface and be used to power geothermal power plants as well as in smaller-scale projects for personal household use once these geothermal reservoirs are tapped into. Often used to power turbines is the steam from the heated underground when used in geothermal power plants and this, in turn, can generate energy that can be harnessed as electricity.
By using the Earth’s own heat and water, energy can be created that can be used on a small or large scale. You can’t deplete the Earth’s heat which is why this renewable resource is also cleaner and safer than many other types of energy, making it a great type of ecologically sound energy source.