Geothermal Energy Facts

The word geothermal is a fusion of “geo”, a Greek word meaning “Earth,” and “therme” a Greek word meaning “heat.Geothermal power originates from the Earth’s formation, decay of radioactive isotopes, volcanic activity and solar energy.
The temperature increases around 80 degrees Fahrenheit for each mile of depth below the Earth’s surface.
At the center of Earth is a solid core with an estimated temperature of about 8,000 °F (4426 °C).
The high temperature of the Earth’s core melts the surrounding rock into a hot liquid referred to as magma.
Geothermal energy is being perpetually generated in the Earth as magma travels upward while surface groundwater sinks down to the Earth.
Territories close to the boundaries of Earth’s tectonic plates contain geothermal resources.
The rate of heat energy transfer, known as the conductive heat flux is much higher near tectonic plate boundaries where the Earth’s crust is thinner.
Geothermal energy can be found in the form of volcanoes, hot springs and geysers.
Volcanoes are the most eminent geothermal occurrences.
Sometimes volcanoes are not located at the boundaries of plates. These locations are referred to as hot spots.
The best-known hot spot is located in the Pacific Ocean, forming the series of volcanoes in Hawaii. Mauna Kea, Hawaii is located above the hot spot.
Nevada has hundreds of hot spots.
More than 10,000 years ago, Native Americans directly used geothermal energy for bathing and cooking.
The oldest known use of geothermal energy is a stone pool on Lisan mountain in China, built in the in the 3rd century BC.
Chaudes-Aigues, France, is considered the world’s oldest geothermal district heating system that has been in operation since the 14th century.
In 1832, Hot Springs, Arkansas (a site of 47 hot springs) became the first federally protected area in the US.
The geothermal heat pump was invented in 1852 by Lord Kelvin, a British physicist and mathematician.
Boise, Idaho built the first district geothermal heating system in the US in 1892.
The world’s first commercial geothermal power plant was built in Larderello, Italy in 1911.
Steam and hot water from geysers began heating homes in Iceland starting 1943.
In 1948, a first geothermal heat pump started operating in Ohio.
Italy was the world’s single producer of geothermal electricity until New Zealand built a plant in 1958.
Geothermal energy use in New Zealand started in 1958 when the first geothermal plant was opened in Warakei.

Boise, Idaho was a location of the first U.S. district geothermal heating system built in 1892.
In 1960, a first-ever commercial geothermal unit started operating at the Geysers, California.
The fist binary cycle power plant was erected in 1967 in Kamchatka, Russia.
In 2006, a binary cycle plant in Chena Hot Springs, Alaska produced electricity at a record-low temperature of 134.6 degrees F (57°C).
The first geothermal power plant in Philippines started operations in 1977.
Heating is the most common use of geothermal energy.
In over 70 countries, geothermal energy is used directly (geothermal energy from the Earth is used for residential heating).
The world presently generates 10,000 MW (10 GW) of geothermal energy per year.
Geothermal energy constitutes 0.4{d7514f11c7b5caf74388f511feb4632d0e65596f28f25c91e5fa75b3dade25af} of the world’s annual total production of energy.
The United States has the largest geothermal energy capacity with installed geothermal capacity of 3 GW.
In the US, geothermal electric power plants are located in California, Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah.
The geothermal power plants in California are located in the Geysers (26 units), Imperial Valley East Mesa (6 units), Imperial Valley Heber (25 units), Imperial Valley Salton Sea (13 units), Coso (9 units), Mammoth (10units) and Honey Lake (3 units).
The geothermal capacity of California is 2.5 GW, supplying 4.5{d7514f11c7b5caf74388f511feb4632d0e65596f28f25c91e5fa75b3dade25af} of the state electricity generation.
Even though the US is the world’s leader in the development and production of geothermal energy, less than 1 {d7514f11c7b5caf74388f511feb4632d0e65596f28f25c91e5fa75b3dade25af} of its electrical requirements are met with geothermal energy.
The Philippines is the world’s second largest producer of geothermal energy for power generation, with an installed capacity of 1.9 GW.
Geothermal energy provides 16{d7514f11c7b5caf74388f511feb4632d0e65596f28f25c91e5fa75b3dade25af} of the Philippine’s electricity.
The world’s third producer of geothermal energy is Indonesia with capacity of installed geothermal plants of 1.2 GW.
The fourth largest producer of geothermal electricity is Mexico with 1 GW installed capacity. 3{d7514f11c7b5caf74388f511feb4632d0e65596f28f25c91e5fa75b3dade25af} of Mexico’s electricity comes from geothermal power sources.
The fifth largest producer of geothermal electricity is Italy with 0.8 GW of installed capacity, supplying 2{d7514f11c7b5caf74388f511feb4632d0e65596f28f25c91e5fa75b3dade25af} Italy’s electricity needs.
The capacity of installed geothermal plants in New Zealand is 700 MW.
Geothermal power in New Zealand provides 10{d7514f11c7b5caf74388f511feb4632d0e65596f28f25c91e5fa75b3dade25af} of the New Zealand’s electricity.
The capacity of installed geothermal plants in Iceland is 575 MW.
In Reykjavík, Iceland, used geothermal water from the district heating system is channeled below pavements, car parking areas and sidewalks to thaw snow.
The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) says that geothermal power can meet the needs of 60 million people.
Geothermal energy delivers 20{d7514f11c7b5caf74388f511feb4632d0e65596f28f25c91e5fa75b3dade25af} of Iceland’s electricity supply. Most electricity in Iceland is produced by hydroelectric plants.
The improvements in geothermal energy technology could enable the US to obtain geothermal power for thousands of years.
In 50 years the US could use geothermal energy to produce 100,000 MW of electricity annually.
The Birdsville geothermal power plant is Australia’s only operating source of geothermal electric power.
South Australia has been referred to as “Australia’s hot rock haven”. Geothermal energy could provide 6.8{d7514f11c7b5caf74388f511feb4632d0e65596f28f25c91e5fa75b3dade25af} of its base load power requirements by 2030.