By Miles Flisher
An often forgotten source of energy is one that is below us at all times, yet we tend to look right over it. Geothermal energy is converting the heat from the center of the Earth’s core into energy, which can then besides being used for just heat, be converted into energy that can be stored for other uses.
The range of potential geothermal energy can vary anywhere from ground water to hot springs and rocks, to the miles below the Earth’s crust where the hottest temperatures are found in the magma. The Earths center, which is liquid molten lava, is of course unreachable, but there is more than enough energy in closer reach that we are overlooking currently, and are unwilling to harness.
The main applicable use of geothermal energy so far has been geothermal heat pumps, which can be used to not only heat but also cool buildings. These heat pumps work by a system in which the heat is pumped through two parts: an air delivery system and a heat exchanger. These are a system of shallow underground pipes that work by the heat exchanger pushing the heat to the air delivery system and into the area that needs heating. For cooling a building the process is reversed so that the hot air is taken from inside the building and put into the heat exchanger. In the summer this excess heat that is removed from the building can be used for hot water. The heat that is naturally present on the earth can be used for more than just heating buildings, it can be used in greenhouses, to dry crops, for heating fish in fish farms, and even more uses unutilized.
Geothermal power plants work by using the natural steam from a reservoir to turn a turbine, generating power. Though other plants may boil a fluid that is then hot enough to be in steam form which then does the same to make the turbine create energy.
The main argument against geothermal energy is that it costs too much to obtain because of drilling. Though there are many examples of cities that have benefited through their use of geothermal going as far back the 14th century in Chauges-Aigues, France all the way to the first use in America in Boise, Idaho in 1892. Since then countries like Italy and New Zealand have also used geothermal. Geothermal energy may not be the perfect solution for all energy use but it may be applicable to the right places with the right circumstances.