Geothermal energy is energy derived from the Earth’s natural heat. Heat is generated in the Earth mostly by the decay of naturally radioactive materials. This heat travels up all the way to within a couple feet of the Earth’s surface (where the temperature remains above 50 degrees year round) and this heat can be used to heat homes. Further down, where the temperatures are much higher, energy from the heat can be converted into electricity. The amount of energy we could potentially obtain from these sources is 50,000 times greater than that available from oil or natural gas. The trick, of course, is developing a way to harness this energy effectively. At the moment, the most common way to capture this energy is in the form of steam, which isoccurs naturally when water trickles down into the Earth, is heated by the Earth and then rises up to the surface. When this steam is trapped before it rises up and cools, it can be used to power generators.
Geothermal energy is currently used for many different things. For one, more and more people are starting to use it to heat their pools. It is also used for warming homes and buildings. In San Bernardino, California many of the public buildings such as city hall and animal shelters are heated using hot water from the ground and pumping it through miles of insulated pipes.
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