Geothermal Resources

Written by Courtney Salinas
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Our planet is an amazing wonder. While it supports life on its surface, it stores energy and heat in its crust. Not only does it provide us with a place to live, but it can help sustain our energy needs through geothermal resources. There are two different geothermal resources, both of which lie in the Earth's crust and both of which can be harnessed to produce energy.

Geothermal Energy from the Soil

Regardless of the time of year, the upper 10 feet of the Earth's crust is always 45 to 58 degrees. It maintains this temperature through absorbing the suns energy and storing it up. This makes the soil cooler than the air in the summer and warmer than the air in the winter. These conditions make it ideal to heat and cool our homes with the use of geothermal heat pump systems.

Geothermal Reservoirs

Geothermal energy isn't used solely for heating individual homes and businesses. It can also be used to generate electricity in power plants. These plants use something called geothermal reservoirs.

At different parts of the Earth's crust, deep faults allow rainwater to seep into the porous ground. Magma underneath the crust heats the water, creating a super heated fluid. When the super heated fluid isn't released through geysers or hot springs, a geothermal reservoir is formed. Power plants can harness these geothermal reservoirs by drilling wells 5,000 to 10,000 feet below the Earth's surface. The hot water naturally rises to the surface through these wells and is then "flashed" into steam that is used to run turbines that create electricity.

These power plants have to be very careful, though, that they don't deplete the surface layer of its rainwater. To replenish the reservoir, power plants condense any unused steam and return that and any unused water to the Earth. This way, they are always feeding their source of energy.

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