The Natural Resource of Geothermal Energy

The Natural Resource of Geothermal EnergyWith the need for alternative sources for energy, it was only logical to turn to the already heated interior of our planet. Hot springs have been used since Paleolithic times for baths, spas, and even for heating homes. But, now it is a cost effective, clean, reliable and sustainable way to produce electricity. Thus far the major drawback is that it is only available in areas located near tectonic plates where Magma is always close to the surface and the heat readily accessible.

The first geothermal power station was constructed in Italy by Piero Ginori Conti in 1911 and remained the only commercial geothermal power station in the world producing electricity until New Zealand built a plant in 1958. As of 2012, the New Zealand plant was still producing 594 Megawatts. In the United States, the first plant was built around Geysers by Pacific Gas and Electric in 1960. Then in the U.S.S.R. the first Binary Cycle Power Plant was opened in 1967 using a much lower temperature to generate electricity and one, was built in the U.S. in 1981.

The US is leading the way in Geothermal power production with 77 power plants operational. Although these plants supply less than 1% (3,086 MW) of the nation’s electricity production, it represents 29% of global geothermal electricity production. The Philippines are in a close second place producing 1904 MW and 18% of the world total; however, this supplies 27% of the country’s total production.

The country with largest percentage of the electricity coming by means of geothermal is Iceland at 30% of their total. Although geothermal plants have traditionally been built only around the boundaries of tectonic plates, advancements in binary cycle plants and new drilling techniques and extraction methods have substantially increased the range in which they are now possible, making it a viable solution.