Geothermal power |

Geothermal power

Geothermal power is a renewable energy produced from heat stored in the earth itself beneath the earth's mantle. Geothermal power accounted in 2007 for a measly 0.3% of total world power generated. There have been huge advances in geothermal power in recent years and it is now possible to extract geothermal energy from practically anywhere in the world, whereas previously it was limited to the edge of the earth's tectonic plates.

There are 24 countries that produce geothermal electricity commercially and the largest geo-thermal plant is in the USA. Italy, back in 1904, opened the world's first geo thermal plant in Larderello which still produces 10% of the total energy worldwide provided by geothermal sources. Geo thermal power generation is not a completely clean energy as the extraction of the heat of the geothermal fluids from the ground releases with them a mixture of gases including carbon dioxide and often other elements such as mercury or arsenic. However the level of greenhouse gases released is far smaller than those levels emitted from more traditional power generating sources that burn fossil fuels.

Installing a shallow geothermal heat pump yourself or ground source heat pump should provide enough energy to meet your home's heating needs anywhere in the world. Commercial geothermal power stations have to be placed where they have access to very hot heat sources typically where the earth's crust is thin or there is a magma conduit or hot spring however as drilling technology for geothermal sources improves these obstacles will likely be overcome and it could become a more viable option for other countries.

There are currently no geothermal generators producing power for the national grid in the UK although there is one providing heating in Southampton which opened in 1986 and provides hot water to homes in central Southampton.

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