Thursday, April 15, 2010

Introduction To Geothermal Energy

Although we may find it very convenient and easy to use fossil fuels in order to carry out our daily business, but it is important to remember that these natural resources are depleting very fast and we must take appropriate steps in order to save these resources for our future generations.

This is only possible if we start using other renewable sources of energy rather than the natural fossil fuels.

According to scientists, if we continue the energy usage at the ongoing rate, we could run out of oil in about 40 years, and out of natural gas soon after that.

We only have these fossil fuels because they have been forming deep inside the Earth for millions of years, and once we finish them up, it is going to take another million more years to rebuild them again.

So we need to find good sources of renewable energy so that we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. One great potential source of energy that we’ve hardly used is right beneath our feet. Deep inside the Earth, there is a lot of hot water and steam that can be used to heat our homes and offices and generate electricity cleanly and efficiently. This energy is called geothermal energy.

The middle of the earth is extremely hot and the deeper you dig, the hotter it becomes. The core, which is about 4,000 miles below the surface, has the capacity to reach temperatures of 7,600 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of this existing heat has been left over due to the Earth’s formation, which happened about 4 billion years ago, while the rest is due to the constant decaying of radioactive isotopes inside the Earth.

The heat inside the Earth is so strong that it can easily melt rocks. The molten rocks are then known as magma. And as the magma has lesser density as compared to the rocks around it, it rises to the surface, sometimes escaping through the cracks in the Earth’s crust, erupting out of volcanoes as part of lava.

But mostly, magma stays below the surface, heating the surrounding rocks and the water that lies within those rocks. Sometimes the hot water also escapes through cracks in the Earth to form little pools of hot water (hot springs) or bursts forming a fountain of hot water and steam. The hot water or steam that is erupted with pressure is strong enough to drive turbines to generate electricity or heat your homes. However, some issue need to be addressed while opting for this source of energy which will be covered in the next posts.