Geothermal Energy’s Rise As a Global Energy Source
Most people’s first thought may be solar power when it comes to renewable energy. However, it’s time to spread awareness of other effective resources. Geothermal power has already proven to be a solid national energy resource. Propelling its use worldwide can make quite a difference.
What Is Geothermal Energy?
Geothermal energy refers to the heat produced by the Earth’s core, the hottest part of the planet located around 1,800 miles below the crust. This thermal energy emanates and stays under the Earth when left alone, but it can be a powerful resource.
Geothermal energy usually functions as a natural heating system for hot springs. Thermal energy can also generate steam when fused with water. Thanks to technology and innovation, humans can now tap into this resource.
Applications of Geothermal Energy
Geothermal energy has been around for a while, utilized for various reasons. This brief overview will let you in on the most popular applications of this energy resource.
Heating and Cooling Efficiency
Geothermal energy is primarily known for its high heat. It contributes to natural hot spots for tourists, but it can do so much more. This resource can increase the heating and cooling efficiency in different residential and commercial spaces.
For instance, maybe your radiator isn’t working correctly. Heating and cooling equipment will need more than square footage measurements to ensure peak efficiency. Energy sources play a big role and geothermal energy is a great candidate for HVAC equipment.
Systems utilizing geothermal resources are more efficient. Typically, a house will need 6,400 pounds of carbon dioxide to warm with natural gas. Thermal energy works better and faster, without the added pollution. It also comes at a lower price than conventional energy sources.
Geothermal energy can be a crucial tool for electricity production. This resource can help produce steam, supplying turbines with more wind to generate extra electricity. This can replace conventional and harmful power plants that operate on fossil fuels.
For areas with low wind power, utilizing geothermal energy can turn the tide. Only seven states in the U.S. are employing geothermal power plants in 2022. Those stations in the west currently produce about 500,000 megawatts of power.
There are limited plants, but there is growing discussion about converting abandoned coal mines into geothermal energy power stations. There are more than 4,000 mines in the state of Ohio alone. Researchers believe those areas can help harness geothermal energy.
Food can be difficult to grow and manage due to the natural temperature throughout the year. However, geothermal energy can benefit the agriculture industry. With geothermal, they can calibrate the right temperatures for a particular need. Here are some practical application examples:
- Food production: Geothermal energy can help create greenhouses with optimal heating and cooling temperatures. This can be a great production ground for different fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. It can also improve the quality of different crops throughout the year.
- Food processing: Cooking and drying certain foods can be more efficient with the use of geothermal energy. The heat can help reduce any present humidity in onions, avocados, chilis and other ingredients.
- Food preservation: Some people also utilize this resource for processing and preserving milk and other dairy products. Miraka, a New Zealand dairy company, shares that it has a 94% smaller carbon footprint thanks to its use of geothermal energy.
- Fish farming: Geothermal energy has shown great potential for assisting with the creation and management of fish farms. By controlling the temperatures of a pond, it can be easier to cultivate certain seafood species, such as tropical fish, salmon and shrimp.
Geothermal Energy on the Rise
Many countries are integrating different types of renewable energy. When it comes to geothermal energy, Iceland is at the forefront of it all. About 73% of their energy comes from sustainable sources, with geothermal energy accounting for 26.8%.
One of the biggest geothermal energy companies in the country is ON Power. This Icelandic operator runs the geothermal power plants in Hellisheidi and Nesjavellir. They are also crewing the Andakílsá Hydropower Station. All three facilities help with producing electricity in the country.
The geothermal power plants help harvest water-mixed steam that’s extracted from the Earth’s core. This is sent to a district heating utility for temperature control, producing about 50% of the hot water in Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. The end result is heated homes and pools.
ON Power also helps produce and supply cold water. They extract the resource from 120 meters and warm it to an adequate temperature. It then goes through modified drainage pipes to adhere to water protection laws in the country.
Apart from those contributions, On Power also operates Geothermal Park. This center near the Hellisheidi geothermal power station offers a beautiful nature walk and tours. Visitors can learn and ask about geothermal resources used to help promote a cleaner environment.
The tour also informs people about other innovative companies working under the same vision. For instance, Carbfix, a carbon capture company, shares how they can convert carbon dioxide into stone in less than two years. There’s also Climeworks, which offers direct air capture technology to clear the air of carbon dioxide.
Helping the Geothermal Energy Movement
Geothermal energy has changed Iceland for the better, so it can be exciting to see its impact globally. When joining in on the movement, you can choose to instill some infrastructure in your home or work in the industry to contribute.
If you are a homeowner in California, or another western U.S. state, try to seek foundational piping installations for your home. This will help connect your property to a geothermal plant and access this renewable energy.
If you’re looking for a field to work in, you may also want to consider renewable energy. There are an estimated 196,000 geothermal energy-related jobs globally in 2022. The U.S. offers about 8,000 opportunities, while the EU provides 60,000.
Moving Forward with Geothermal Energy
Geothermal energy is a strong contender for an energy source that can be used worldwide. It’s best to direct more attention to what other countries have already accomplished with thermal resources. With planning and perseverance, it’s possible to adopt the same resources and benefits across the globe.