Geothermal energy can be one of the best solutions to global warming. With the rapid depletion of the ozone layer due to the burning of fossil fuels, people need another source of renewable energy that is almost pollutant free. Hydroelectric power, solar energy and wind turbines are doing a good job of reducing dependence on fossil fuels but the world needs another ally in the fight against global warming.
Origins of Geothermal Energy
Geothermal energy has its origins deep in the earth’s core. If you dig a hole in the ground you will find that as you dig deeper, the temperature increases. The burning magma in the core diffuses its heat and this, along with the heat produced by radioactive decay, is what you harness as geothermal energy.
What are known as geysers are jets of heated water from deep within the earth. Somewhere in the tectonic plates an aquifer passes through a heated part of the plate and erupts through an opening in the earth. In California there is a geothermal field with 22 power stations in full operation. Aptly called The Geysers, the power stations harness the geothermal energy from the many geysers that abound in this area. Its capacity is 1517 megawatts, enough power to satisfy the needs of a small town.
Hot springs have been used as sources of geothermal energy from earliest times. The Roman propensity for hot baths and heated pools was satisfied with the harnessing of the many hot springs that they found in their travels. In England, the town of Bath stills retains the name of its chief attraction, as does the town of Baden in Germany.
Another source of geothermal energy became available with the invention of the heat pump. A hole is drilled in the ground until it reaches a hot aquifer. The heat pump then takes the heat to radiators in the home or wherever a source of heat is needed. In summer, it is possible to reverse the process, taking heat from the home and returning it to the earth.
Geothermal energy, if adequately harnessed, can be a good substitute for fossil fuels. Recent studies have shown that the comparative costs of fossil fuels and geothermal energy are about equal. When you take into account the high levels of pollutants released by the burning of fossil fuels versus the almost pollutant-free geothermal energy, it can only be concluded that the latter is the better alternative. It has been said that there is enough geothermal energy available for a thousand years, while the reserves of oil and gas can only last for another hundred or more years, given our present rate of consumption.