Geothermal Power
Geothermal Power Heats Up the Globe - II

By Andrea Nocito
Renewable Energy
October 3, 2008

Capturing heat from the earth is not a new way to generate power, but, as fossil
fuel prices continue to hover at all-time highs and the global economy stalls,
people are looking to new and old sources of power. Geothermal may soon have
its day in the sun.

In fact, geothermal heat is picking up steam in 24 countries that are using the
energy as part of their power portfolio. In the first six months of 2008, the
global geothermal power supply achieved 10,000 megawatts of electricity. It is
anticipated that by 2010, that supply will jump to 13,500 megawatts and be used
throughout 46 countries. To put that in perspective, 13,500 megawatts is the
approximate amount of electricity generated by 27 coal power plants.

Geothermal energy is created as naturally occurring isotopes decay deep within
the earth’s core under immense pressure. The result: intense heat. Countries
primed for the capture and resale of geothermal energy include Central and South
American countries like Chile, Peru, the North American countries, as well as
other major nations like Russia, China, Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Many of these nations are located along the Ring of Fire, an area with an
abundant amount of geothermal activity.

Geothermal energy provides a cleaner energy resource as the capturing process
emits less carbon than current fossil fuel processes. Additional benefits
include the ability for heat capturing 24 hours a day, which means no need for
backup or storage supplies -- saving money and resources. The Energy Policy Act
of 2005 provided funding and tax credits for geothermal energy. On the whole,
fossil fuel electricity and geothermal electricity cost generally the same, but
with tax incentives for cleaner energy, those costs will decrease.

Nearly 100 geothermal power projects have been commissioned throughout 13 states
with the potential to generate 4,000 megawatts of power. The Department of
Energy is continuing to invest in research and development for efficient
geothermal power. Geothermal energy will continue to be considered a potential
power supply as its track record becomes better established and its efficiency
gains recognition.


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