You are here: home   Issues   Seeking the Water Jackpot   Geothermal is no joke

Geothermal is no joke

Document Actions
What a pleasant surprise to read James Yearling's informative piece about geothermal energy (HCN, 2/18/08). As a volcanologist who spent much of his 32-year career researching geothermal resources for the U.S. Geological Survey, I'm used to seeing geothermal treated like the comedian Rodney Dangerfield ... getting no respect. This lack of respect is in spite of the fact that generating electricity with geothermal steam has been done ever since a clever Italian scientist succeeded in 1904. Today, several countries (for example, Costa Rica and El Salvador) generate up to 25 percent of their nation's electrical power from geothermal steam. Moreover, in these times of global warming and much concern about carbon footprints, it's comforting to know that electricity generated using geothermal steam releases almost no carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Geothermal energy can be developed in many more ways than producing electricity. For example, it's hard to drill a well in volcano-rich Iceland and not encounter warm water. Virtually every building in that country is heated by routing such water through radiators. Geothermal heat is also being increasingly developed to both heat and cool buildings by installing ground-source (also called geothermal) heat pumps. If using geothermal heat to cool a building sounds magical, you may want to read about this process and many other characteristics of geothermal resources in USGS Circular 1249, Geothermal Energy - Clean Power From the Earth's Heat. Search this title at Google, and you can download your own copy.

Wendell A. Duffield
Flagstaff, Arizona

Email Newsletter

The West in your Inbox

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
  1. Idaho’s sewer system is the Snake River | As Big Ag flourishes, this massive waterway suffer...
  2. The Latest: Wild Mexican wolf pups born in Sierra Madre | The species still struggles on both sides of the b...
  3. Recreation-related death toll soars this summer |
  4. Summer swimming in a Washington lake | A writer takes the plunge in frigid water.
  5. Colorado water users gird for first statewide plan |
  1. The death of backpacking? | Younger people don’t seem interested in this out...
  2. Idaho’s sewer system is the Snake River | As Big Ag flourishes, this massive waterway suffer...
  3. A graceful gazelle becomes a pest | Inrroducing an African gazelle called the oryx for...
  4. Illegal immigrants take jobs from Americans | A native-born New Mexico Hispanic points out that ...
  5. Plains sense | Ten years after Frank and Deborah Popper first pro...
HCN Classifieds
Subscriber Alert
© 2014 High Country News, all rights reserved. | privacy policy | terms of use | powered by Plone