One of the most exciting recent developments in alternative energy supplies has been the growth in exploration of geothermal energy sources. In Australia, for example, there are a number of companies seeking to extract heat from basement granites, or near-basement sedimentary rocks. Some have just begun their exploration, while others are on the verge of producing commercial power supplies.
Put simply, geothermal energy stations extract heat from hot rocks deep below the earth’s surface by pumping cool water into fractures within that rock. The water rapidly heats up and is then brought back up to the surface where it is used to drive a steam turbine.
There is almost no carbon footprint with geothermal energy, and unlike other green energy sources, it can provide baseload power. Geothermal energy has always been with us – think of the geysers you can see in some parts of the US, or the hot mineral springs that people have used for thousands of years. The only difference between now and then is that modern energy companies are using drilling techniques that control and maximize the amount of energy that can be recovered.
In Australia it is estimated that geothermal energy could supply the country’s entire energy demands for the next 450 years.
That is a fantastic resource by anyone’s standards, and the next 5-10 years are bound to bring an astounding growth in this form of green energy.