Friday, July 4, 2014

Geothermal Energy - The Untapped Power

Geothermal Energy - The Untapped Power
Geothermal energy is the natural heat energy stored with in the Earth.  Geothermal plants generate electricity by utilizing the steam of super-heated ground water to drive turbines within the power plant facility.  Most geothermal sites in the United States are located in Alaska, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada.  Unlike the western states, there are few viable locations for geothermal power generation on the east coast.
The most obvious benefit to using geothermal is that it is a renewable energy source.  Unlike fossil fuels, geothermal energy does not have a carbon footprint.  All of the heat energy needed to run the facility occurs naturally within the Earth.  Also, geothermal plants have a minimal impact on the environment because the steam, which later condenses into water, is cycled back into the Earth.  If maintained well, geothermal site can create power for decades.
There are also some dangers associated with geothermal energy.  For instance, trace amounts of poisonous gas can escape while steam energy is extracted out of a natural spring.  Though these small amounts are relatively harmless, it is still important to note that this can occur.  Also, the hot spring can become depleted if water is not cycled back into the reservoir of the spring.  A sink hole can occur if enough water is displaced from the well.  Managed well, the vast majority of geothermal power plants can avoid all of these issues.
The current focus on energy independence and lower carbon emissions has created the necessity for environmentally friendly energy solutions.  To make geothermal power more prevalent across the world creative applications of current technologies must be put in place.  For example, the same deep drilling techniques that are used for fracking can be utilized to find geothermal springs.  Once drilled, a single geothermal plant can tap multiple hot springs simultaneously and reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.  Coupled with a more efficient electrical grid, there is a strong chance that this energy can be generated and transmitted with little environmental impact.

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