The world is pursuing new energy sources in the wake of the depletion of fossil fuels and as well as the environmental hazards caused by them. Scientific world is now emphasizing on producing energy from renewable sources, like Sun, tide or wind. There is also another great source of energy that is yet to be utilized in its full potential. That is the Earth itself. The Earth’s interior contains a great amount of energy, stored in the form of heat. This energy is called Geothermal Energy, which manifests itself in the forms of hot springs and geysers.
The origin of geothermal energy is attributed to two facts. The first one is the formation of the planet. For thousands of years, Earth had been a hot, molten sphere. Then it began to cool, which took several thousand years as well. Even though the surface of the planet has attained a liveable state that exists today, the inner side of Earth is still in the cooling process. The inside of Earth is full of molten magma and other fluids. The lava flow during a volcanic eruption is an evidence for this fact. The continuous heat loss from this cooling and the radioactive decay are the sources of the huge amount of energy stored in Earth.
Geothermal energy had been familiar to the world since early ages. Hot springs had been used for bathing since ancient times. There are a number of features for geothermal energy that makes it appealing. A major advantage of it is its renewability. The extraction of geothermal energy is very low, when comparing to the large amount of energy stored inside the Earth. It is also reliable and economical and most importantly causes very low pollution problems. Even though toxic gases and other materials can accompany the extraction of the energy, it is less dangerous than fossil fuels.
Electricity has been produced from geothermal power since early 20th century. The first geothermal power plant was established in Italy in 1904. The United States is the country that produces most amount of power from geothermal energy. It also houses the largest group of geothermal power stations in the world, located in the state of California. The Philippines, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Iceland and New Zealand are among the other nations, which number more than 25, those lead the usage of geothermal electricity. The energy is also used directly in various places, for heating, green houses and several industrial processes. The researches for using this gigantic source of power are continuing in full steam.