Have you heard of the term “geothermal energy” but not really know what it means? I am happy to break it down for you on a level that makes sense to everyone. Since there are so many renewable energy options out there, it is important to know what type of renewable energy is really the best choice for you.
What does “geothermal” mean?
Let us begin with the very basics. The term “geothermal” literally means that it is a heat source that comes from the Earth. While you may not be using the energy for heating purposes, it is including anything that involves using energy, whether you need it for heating or keeping your lights on in your house.
How it works is that there is natural heat that comes out of the ground in several parts of the world. Whether it hot water, hot rock, or even shallow ground that is emitting heat, the magma that is within the Earth puts off its internal heat that will pop up in places all over. That means though that geothermal energy is not plausible in all locations. It actually works well in Africa as there are several areas that have efficient geothermal energy coming out of the ground.
How does it work?
The most common way to grabbing the geothermal energy from the ground is to tap into the ground where it is coming out of. They use these hydrothermal convection systems where cold water is heated by the geothermal heat, allowing the heat to come up to the surface. They then use the heated water to power electric generators which can run houses, businesses, and even cities. The geothermal power plants will drill holes into the rocks that have the heat underneath them in order to grab the heat more efficiently.
While the term “power plant” seems to have a bad name, with people associating nuclear power plants with it even though they have also been shown to have clean energy. There was the Chernobyl incident of course that caused a whole slew of issues so now people think of power plants and nuclear waste. Geothermal power plants do not operate like that at all though.
There are really three kinds of geothermal power plants, but they all do the same thing of pulling hot water and steam out of the Earth and using it to power electric generators and provide clean energy where there may not be any options for it.
How is it clean energy?
Just like solar energy is an entirely clean energy source, so is geothermal. I mean think about it, what is cleaner than power that comes from things already there? The magma that is underneath the Earth’s surface is already there. It is not something that we have to create. And it is not like we are taking the magma out of the Earth to use it for power like we do when it comes to oil and coal. Magma is not a mined element. It is something that is already there creating heat which we can capture and during into power. It is also how solar power works. It’s not like solar panels are draining energy out of the sun. They only capture the energy that is already there to be converted into something else. There is not loss in geothermal heat, we are just using it to help us have a more sustainable planet while keeping ourselves in the twenty-first century. Just because we want to be green conscious does not mean we have to revert back to the Stone Age.