Written by Miyo Fukuzawa, ESLLC 2016-2017
Geothermal energy is one of the most sustainable renewable sources of energy available to us. Geothermal energy uses heat that is naturally present in the earth and uses it to create electrical power or heating and cooling systems.
Creating electrical power from geothermal energy tends to be limited to certain geographic regions where with very high underground temperatures, common in regions with tectonic plate activity such as the western states of the U.S. Geothermal heating and cooling systems, however, can virtually be installed anywhere. They only require the heat that exists underground all of Earth’s surfaces, regardless of the geographic conditions.
In an average American home, heating and cooling systems use the most electricity than any other category of electricity use. Geothermal heat pumps use 25-50% less electricity than conventional heating and cooling methods. If we could replace our heating systems with geothermal heat pumps, we could significantly cut back on our energy use! Geothermal resources have amazing potential, but unfortunately, they have not been a major focus in the discussion of clean, renewable energy. The media as well as the government has been putting much more focus on solar and wind. One of the issues of geothermal energy is the cost. Geothermal technology and installations are very expensive, much more than conventional heating systems. Although geothermal heating systems will hugely reduce one’s electricity bill, the initial installation is still out of the picture for many. Hopefully, one day we will be able to make geothermal energy more accessible for all and create a cleaner planet.