Last month MIT released a study claiming that Geothermal Energy could meet up to 10% of U.S. energy demand by 2050. It took 30 years and an 18-member MIT-led panel to prepare a new study on geothermal energy, since it was last actively researched in the late 1970s and early 1980s. With the resurgence and need for alternative energy sources as well as a shifting political concern for our environment, it’s no wonder that studies on geothermal energy have begun to resurface.
Geothermal Plant outside of Iceland
So what’s so great about geothermal? Unlike other alternative resources, namely wind and solar, geothermal can draw energy twenty-four hours a day seven days a week; and unlike other natural resources (such as power plants that burn coal, natural gas, or oil), no fuel is needed to power a geothermal plant. Essentially, geothermal plants mine the heat from both the hot rock and flowing water below ground. The heat in turn produces steam that drives turbines at the ground level, producing electricity.
You’ll be happy to know that the United States is ahead of the rest of the world, being the largest producer of geothermal energy. And, according to Nafi Toksöz, a geophysicist at MIT, the combined energy of geothermal plants in California, Hawaii, Utah and Nevada is comparable to all the solar and wind power produced throughout the U.S.