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Geothermal Primer

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(light music) – Geothermal energy,
the heat of the Earth, can be found beneath our feet everywhere. But extracting enough of
it at an affordable price is the challenge. In some parts of the world extreme heat from deep within the Earth
rises nearer the surface. Here it’s fairly easy to tap. For more on how that’s done,
see our geothermal cycles. We use that heat in mainly two ways, to heat people’s homes and to turn a steam turbine
to make electricity. Like hydropower, geothermal is flexible. It can be always on base load power. Or it can be ramped up
quickly to follow demand. The problem is these high
temperature geothermal areas are few and far between. Iceland is the best example, but Indonesia, Italy,
California, and Hawaii all have a powerful geothermal resource. So how do we get these benefits elsewhere? In some places old oil wells
allow access to hot water. In others we’re experimenting
with drilling new wells, fracturing the rocks,
and circulating water. But the energy returned is
low while the cost is high. There’s also low temperature geothermal which uses the constant
temperature on the near surface to heat or cool a building. But the installation
is three to five times as expensive as conventional equipment. So that’s geothermal in a nutshell. Where there’s high
temperature near the surface it’s a fantastic resource. Elsewhere, it’s still cost prohibitive. To see Iceland’s success
with geothermal electricity check out the film.

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