Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network (EREN), U.S. Department of Energy

Geothermal Energy Technologies


Courtesy of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network (EREN), U.S. Department of Energy

Technology Overview
Nowhere is the raw power of geothermal resources more evident than at the Old Faithful geyser at Yellowstone National Park. (Joel Renner) 
Geothermal energy is natural heat from the Earth's interior where temperatures reach greater than 7000°F. The heat is brought to the surface as steam or hot water—created when water flows through heated, permeable rock—and used directly for space heating in homes and buildings or converted to electricity. The most rapidly growing use for geothermal energy is geothermal heat pumps, which use earth or low-temperature groundwater as a heat source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer.
The current production of geothermal energy from all uses places third among renewables, following hydroelectricity and biomass, and ahead of solar and wind. Yet this production has barely scratched the surface of the enormous potential of geothermal energy. U.S. geothermal resources alone are estimated at 70,000,000 quads, equivalent to a 750,000-year supply of energy for the entire nation at current rates of consumption. The geothermal energy potential in the uppermost 6 miles of the Earth's crust amounts to 50,000 times the energy of all oil and gas resources in the world.

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