What is geothermal energy?
Geothermal energy (from the Greek “geo” earth, and thermos” heat) represents the natural heat contained within the Earth. This heat derives both from the internal activity of the planet and from solar heat.
Leaving aside for the moment heat from the sun, an immense amount of thermal energy is generated and conserved in the core, the mantle and the earth’s crust. This heat is transferred from the core towards the surface mainly through conduction, thus as we move from the surface to the centre of the Earth there is an increase in temperature of roughly 25.30°C per km.
The application of geothermal energy was initially limited to zones close to tectonic plates, or so-called “hot spots”, such as geysers. Today this technology is being increasingly being transformed in ways that have greatly widened the scope for intervention, in some cases regardless of the geographical area, especially for the heating of buildings (geothermal heating). About 10 GW of electrical power from geothermal generation have been installed worldwide since 2007, and it has been estimated that another 28 GW providing direct geothermal heating (district heating, single buildings, spas, industrial processes, agriculture and so on).
According to the US Environmental Agency, there is no other heating system on the market that is cleaner and more efficient than geothermal technology.
Geothermal energy for heating buildings
Geothermal energy exploits underground heat at a depth of 100 to 200 metres and, through geometric wells, pumps it to the surface at the required temperature for our homes. It is also possible, thanks to the same pumps, to obtain the opposite effect, i.e. cool the atmosphere even on hot days.
About 70 countries in the world use 270 PJs of heating a year with geothermal energy. More than half of this is used in homes and one third for swimming pools, 88 PJs of this is assumed to come from roughly a million geothermal pumps with an overall power of around 15GW.
Government incentives and tax reductions (65% over 10 years)
Long plant life (50 years)
Greatly reduced tax bills
No running costs
55% reduction on cost of installation
No gas leaks
No carbon monoxide
Limitless and readily available source of energy
No greenhouse gas emissions
From 20% to 70% reduction in cooling systems
No external air conditioning units
Non invasive geothermal plant
Frees up living space
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