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Geothermal Energy Essay

2863 words - 11 pages

Geothermal Energy: The Answer to the Energy Problem?

Abstract: The global community is currently searching for new sources of energy that are not detrimental to the environment, that are cost effective, and that will be able to provide for the current and future demand for energy. Geothermal energy is one of the promising alternatives to fossil fuels because it releases no toxic or greenhouse gas emissions, its current cost is decreasing yearly, and it is a continuous source of energy. It is a clean and efficient energy source that has the capabilities to provide for a majority of the power used in the residential, commercial, industrial, and electric power sectors. This paper will examine the current and most efficient methods of mass producing geothermal energy, its cost effectiveness, environmental impact of production, the amount of power it can produce, and will determine if geothermal energy could be the answer to the world’s energy problem Introduction: The United States is faced with a major problem: finding new energy sources that would not release pollutants released in the atmosphere. The search has been fruitful, with great development in solar, and wind technologies, but they remain much too expensive to mass produce and both have sporadic productions of energy due to a heavy reliance on the weather. Yet this search has also resulted in the growth and success of geothermal energy, which provides a continuous stream of heat energy from within the Earth. The geothermal field is quickly growing, making this renewable energy source a competitor amongst fossil fuels and a great hope for the future. Background:
Geothermal energy is heat from within the Earth. This heat energy is either steam or hot water that collects within fissures within the Earth’s crust. It is generated by the high amounts of energy released from the radioactive decay of particles within the Earth’s core (Geothermal Energy...para1-2kids). Therefore, because this heat is essentially limitless, geothermal energy is considered a renewable resource. There are three uses of geothermal energy, each requiring a different method of harvesting. The first is direct use, in which people use the heat energy without converting it to electricity. Its applications include food preparation, space heating and cooling as well as in spas and hot pools. The second use is geothermal heat pumps, which are devices that extracts heat from a space and then dissipates it into the Earth or traps and pumps heat energy from the Earth into the space; according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it is one of the most efficient heating-cooling systems available. The third use (which will be the main concentration of this paper) is developing electricity from geothermal sources. The process to do so is simple: a power plant would draw steam from a geothermal reservoir up into and through a steam turbine (generating mechanical energy which is used in a generator to produce electricity), then...

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