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Geothermal Energy - An Abundant Resource

April 09, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 173

Geothermal Energy is energy expelled from the earth's crust. Derived from magma, molten rock in the earth's crust, and the natural process of the radioactive decay of potassium, uranium, and thorium. Magma is extremely hot because of the enormous amount of pressure and friction found in the area of the earth's subsurface.

Geothermal energy, while massive in amount, doesn't fare too well when compared to the sun's energy, which wins hands down by a factor of 20,000. Nonetheless, this form of energy is currently being tapped for use by over 20 countries, notably Iceland, which receives approximately 17% of its total electricity demand from geothermal energy. The largest geothermal energy plants currently churn out a couple hundred megawatts of energy. Current estimates state that Iceland can produce enough energy to provide 1700 megawatts of electricity for the next 100 years.

Simply put, the process of extracting energy from the earth is very basic. Water is pumped through pipes to the source of this heat, then boiled and the resulting steam runs a turbine that creates electricity. The water then recondensed is sent back through the pipes to repeat the cycle. If the pipes used were strong and deep enough, we could push them down to the earth's mantle resulting in an inexhaustible source of electricity.

Currently, criticisms of geothermal energy prevent full-fledged exploration and implementation on a large scale. Critics state that the study is too costly and development time too great. Once we overcome the hurdles, we still need to invest large amounts of money to build the geothermal power plant with no promise that it will turn a profit. Once tapped, geothermal sites, may not produce the required amount of steam to make it reliable and viable. And in the background, environmentalists concerned that the process of bringing magma to the surface could potentially bring harmful materials with it.

It is felt my many, that with continued and heightened development, it would only be a matter of time before all critics are silenced. A geothermal fact is that since this is earth's energy no pollutants would be produced. This energy form is an extremely efficient process and the effort required to channel its forces are minimal once a productive site is found and plant completed. Furthermore, geothermal plants are not nearly as large as atomic energy facilities, giant dams or electrical plants. This alone should comfort those opposed to geothermal plants because of environmental disruption. As with any alternative energy, utilizing it would mean less dependence on fossil fuels. The most important factor in using this as an energy source is its abundance - we will never run out of it! Additionally, it is a commodity that should become less expensive over time since it is ubiquitous. This form of energy, in the end should be very inexpensive once investigation, development and implementation conclude.

In the strictest sense, geothermal energy as an energy source differs from the likes of wind and water, because as energy is extracted from the ground it cools down slowly. As a result of radioactive heating, geothermal energy is slowly replenished. It appears that at depths of 50 to 60 miles below the earth's surface, there are pockets of molten rock thought to have temperatures that range between 1,200 and 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. At those temperatures, we would be provided with a portentous source of geothermal energy. Unfortunately, at this time, the deepest drilling undertaken extends down only 8 miles. As we become less dependent on fossil fuels, geothermal energy will soon join the sun and nuclear energy in providing the world's industries, homes, and offices with clean energy.

Carl Paul Jochim II

Geothermal Energy is reliable, sustainable, environmentally friendly and most importantly, cost effective. Recent advances in technology have dramatically expanded the size and range of viable resources, especially for home heating applications. Geothermal wells release gases deep within the earth, but when compared to fossil fuels have a minimal impact. The result, an energy source that can potentially minimize global warming if deployed in place of fossil fuels. If geothermal energy can help reduce our utility bills, questions concerning energy prices, interest rates and subsidies must be answered.

Please take time to visit my website and get a better understanding of the topics mentioned above.

Source: EzineArticles
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