Geothermal Power: Definition, Potential & More

As an essentially unlimited energy source, geothermal power has the potential to be a major contributor to global energy production.

Definition of Geothermal Power
Definition of Geothermal Power / Ecolife

What is geothermal power?

Geothermal power is a form of renewable energy that taps into the heat emanating from the earth’s core. It can be used for many energy uses:

  • Directly: By bringing geothermal spring water up to the earth’s surface and using it to heat homes and buildings, district water, and so on.
  • For electricity: High-temperature geothermal water or steam located within a mile or two of the earth’s surface is used in geothermal power plants to generate clean electricity.
  • In heat pumps: Heat pumps use the stable temperatures found in subsurface soils or water near the earth’s surface to control building temperatures by providing cool or warm air.

Using geothermal resources for space heating, electricity, water heating, and so on is extremely cost-effective, sustainable, and climate change friendly (though bringing geothermal fluids up to the earth’s surface does result in the emission of some greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane in relatively small quantities).

Theoretically, the amount of possible geothermal energy is far, far more than humanity could ever possibly need.

What is a geothermal reservoir?

Geothermal power sources are concentrated around what is called the Ring of Fire – a geographical region primarily in the Pacific Ocean where large hydrothermal resources called geothermal reservoirs are located. You can see evidence of the earth’s geothermal energy in a variety of natural phenomena, such as:

  • Volcanoes
  • Fumaroles
  • Hot springs
  • Geysers

The United States is currently the leading geothermal power market in the world. However, Iceland is the country that has harnessed the potential of geothermal power most efficiently. In Iceland, geothermal power is the primary energy resource of the country. For example, over 90 % of all houses in Iceland are heated using geothermal power.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Geothermal power is a form of renewable energy generated by harnessing the natural heat of the Earth’s core. It can be used for many energy uses such as directly heating homes and buildings and generating clean electricity.

Geothermal power plants utilize the natural energy of the earth via steam produced in underground reservoirs. Pipes are drilled deep into the earth’s crust, and the steam is then directed through pipelines to power a turbine and generate usable energy.

Geothermal power has many potential energy applications such as heating homes and buildings, providing district water heating, producing electricity and powering heat pumps. As a form of clean energy, geothermal power is cost-effective and climate-friendly.