Browse Definitions:
Definition

geothermal energy

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Geothermal energy is renewable, clean power derived from the thermal energy in subterranean earth.

The earth’s thermal energy is created by the decay of radioactive elements in the earth along with the heat from the sun and that remaining from the earth’s creation. Unlike solar power or wind power, geothermal energy is not interrupted by lull times. The technology also has a small carbon footprint in development.

The heat from geothermal energy can be (and is) used either directly to heat homes and businesses or used in conjunction with geothermal heat pumps. In the same way that they can be used to heat, geothermal systems can also be used to cool. In a hotter environment, or at a hotter time of year, water circulated through a geothermal loop carries heat below the earth’s surface, where it is absorbed into the ground; the cooled water is carried back up to regulate the higher ambient temperature. Geothermal heat pumps are one of the environmentally-friendly methods used to cool green data centers.

Geothermal energy can also be used to drive steam turbines. One example of this technology is Calpine Corporation’s geothermal plants in the Mayacamas Mountains in northwestern California. These 15 plants produce up to 725 megawatts daily, making them the largest geothermal energy source in America.

Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) are one of the technologies being developed in this field. EGS uses deeper wells with methods or drilling, much like those used in hydraulic fracturing. Unfortunately, as with hydraulic fracturing (sometimes known as "fracking"), EGS also has the potential side effect of causing earthquakes.

See a video demonstration of a geothermal plant:

This was last updated in January 2014

Continue Reading About geothermal energy

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces.

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

SearchSecurity

  • FIDO (Fast Identity Online)

    FIDO (Fast ID Online) is a set of technology-agnostic security specifications for strong authentication. FIDO is developed by the...

  • cryptanalysis

    Cryptanalysis is the study of ciphertext, ciphers and cryptosystems with the aim of understanding how they work and finding and ...

  • Trojan horse (computing)

    In computing, a Trojan horse is a program that appears harmless, but is, in fact, malicious.

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

  • cloud storage provider

    A cloud storage provider, also known as a managed service provider (MSP), is a company that offers organizations and individuals ...

  • personal cloud storage (PCS)

    Personal cloud storage (PCS) enables users to store data, photos, music, videos and other files on a local network-attached ...

  • cloud SLA (cloud service-level agreement)

    A cloud SLA (cloud service-level agreement) is an agreement between a cloud service provider and a customer that ensures a ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close