Geothermal energy is an under-utilized resource which could cut power consumption and yet also produce it in certain areas. Places like Iceland use massive amounts of geothermal energy to power their country. Their volcanic activity enables them to harvest heat from the earth’s core. The harvest of existing heat is exactly what geothermal energy can promise. The sun helps provide heat through radiance but the earth also has a molten core. This molten core transfers heat through the layers of the earth.
In caves that lay below the frost line, the temperature remains around 49-55 degrees Fahrenheit year round. The idea is not that 55 degrees will be a comfortable temperature, but that it will take far less energy to heat or cool that 55 degrees to a more desirable temperature. In essence, why work harder?
The way we generate electricity is almost the same in any kind of field. A fuel or source of energy make an engine or generator turn to produce electricity. Have you ever heard of the steam engine? Nuclear power plants, coal fire power plants, natural gas power plants, and yes even geothermal all use steam to turn a turbine, engine, or generator which produces electricity. The technology is nearly the same for all of these power plants but the way in which we get them to work differs.
How do I Start?
You might decide to switch to a geothermal pump to produce electricity for your home. One of the primary benefits of opting for geothermal power is so that you don’t burn fossil fuels when heating or cooling your home. Keep in mind however, that this kind of system is an investment and will be a long term solution rather than a quick fix. Pipes can be laid underground in different arrays to provide maximum heat transfer through the ground. The pipe or tubing can be laid in water, and normally this is done in coils because of the density which maximizes space making this design more economical. The most efficient way of heat transfer is through a liquid being pumped through the pipe or tubing. The liquid absorbs the earth’s constant temperature and the heat is transferred through your geothermal unit.
There are some immediate negatives to installation of geothermal. The first is that it costs a lot of money. The technology isn’t difficult and you could do it yourself if you had the equipment. If you plan on putting this in your yard, you’re going to have a mud pit for a quite a while. It also might not be available to you in your area. There are geothermal maps you can find posted online. When is the last time you heard advertising about geothermal on the TV, radio, or newspaper? The answer is probably “ I haven’t”. The reason is because it’s not mainstream yet. The best place to find a company who does this sort of work is online. If there isn’t a way to do it around the area you live in, then maybe you’ve found basis for an entrepreneurial adventure!
Feature Image: Geothermal heat pump for the home. Image via WaterFurnace.