Important Geothermal Energy Facts

Economic Geothermal Energy Facts

  • geothermal energy is immune to fuel market fluctuations, because it uses no fuel.
  • Upfront Costs are high
  • Drilling accounts for nearly half the cost of geothermal power
  • Typical wells can support 4.5 MW of electricity
  • Plant construction and drilling can cost up to 5 million dollars
  • Once built, electrical costs typically cost 4-10 cents per kWh
  • A small power plant can supply enough energy for a small village
  • According to the EPA, geo-exchange systems save homeowners 70% off their heating bill
  • According to the EPA, geo-exchange systems save 50% off cooling costs
  • Many utility companies offer special rates for geothermal customers
  • The Chevron Corporation is the world’s largest private producer of geothermal energy

Environmental Geothermal Energy Facts

  • Geothermal power comes from drilling deep within the earth
  • This creates a number of gases that can harm the environment, including carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, methane, and ammonia
  • Those gases contribute to global warming, acid rain, and noxious smells
  • Geothermal power stations create 270 pounds (122 kilograms) of CO
  • Those pollution numbers are vastly lower than conventional fossil fuel emissions
  • Power plants are equipped with emission control systems to reduce pollution
  • The hot water from geothermal geysers has trace amounts of mercury, arsenic, boron, and antimony
  • As the water cools, these chemicals can be released and cause harm to the environment
  • Injecting cooled geothermal fluids back into the earth stimulates production and reduces environmental impact
  • When using direct geothermal heating systems, you use pumps and compressors that may consume energy from pollution ridden sources
  • Plant installation can affect land stability
  • Enhanced geothermal systems can trigger earthquakes due to hydraulic fracturing.
  • A project in Switzerland was suspended because more than 10,000 seismic events measuring up to 3.4 on the Richter scale occurred over the first 6 days of water injection
  • Geothermal plants only use 5 gallons of freshwater (per MWh) compared to the 260 gallons needed for nuclear, coal, and oil.

Heating Geothermal Energy Facts

  • Geothermal heating is the direct use of geothermal energy for heating applications
  • Seventy countries have made use of geothermal heating
  • Over 28 GW of geothermal heating is installed around the world, satisfying 0.07% of  the global need
  • Thermal efficiency is high since no energy conversion is needed, but capacity factors tend to be low (around 20%) since the heat is mostly needed in the winter
  • Geothermal heat comes from the heat retained within the Earth
  • The heat has been there since the formation of the planet
  • Most high temperature geothermal heat is harvested in regions close to tectonic plate boundaries where volcanic activity rises close to the surface of the Earth.
  • In these areas, ground and groundwater can be found with temperatures higher than the target temperature of the application
  • Below 10 feet the ground is consistently 12.8 °C (55 °F) in moderate climates, and it may be extracted with a heat pump

Residential Geothermal Heating

Power Plant Drilling

Heat Pump Geothermal Energy Facts

  • A geothermal heat pump or ground source heat pump (GSHP) is a central heating and/or cooling system that pumps heat to or from the ground.
  • It uses the earth as a heat source (in the winter) or a heat sink (in the summer).
  • This design takes advantage of the moderate temperatures in the ground to boost efficiency and reduce the operational costs of heating and cooling systems, and may be combined with solar heating to form a geosolar system with even greater efficiency.
  • Ground source heat pumps are also known as "geothermal heat pumps"
  • They are also known by other names, including geoexchange, earth-coupled, and earth energy systems.
  • The engineering and scientific communities prefer the terms "geoexchange" or "ground source heat pumps" to avoid confusion with traditional geothermal power, which uses a high temperature heat source to generate electricity
  • Ground source heat pumps harvest heat absorbed at the Earth's surface from solar energy.
  • The temperature in the ground below 20 ft (6 meters) is roughly equal to the average air temperature at the surface
  • Heat pumps provide winter heating by pumping heat from underneath your home/business, and then circulating it into the home or office

Related Articles:

How to Make Geothermal Power Work For You

The Geothermal Energy Facts are In: Iceland is A Geothermal Nation

What is Geothermal Energy

Geothermal Environmental Impact

3 Benefits of Installing a Geothermal Heating System in Your Home

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