Geothermal Energy at the Boiling Point

("hot-earth" steam can be utilized for many practical applications)

Tiny Iceland is hoping it can help nations in Africa, Asia, and South America to develop the production of geothermal energy.

Steam has long powered the Icelandic dreams with pockets of underground water heated by the earth's core by figuring out useful ways to harness its heat and power, employing it for everything from baking bread to turning turbines.

Global geothermal resources remain largely untapped and therefore are going to waste!

  1. Geothermal power now provides cheap, clean heat to more than 90 percent of Icelandic homes, and generates 30 percent of the nation's electricity, a slice worth roughly 120 million dollars.
  2. In recent years, as Icelanders became convinced that their ambitious banks could create a global financial center in the far north Atlantic, geothermal power was pushed out of the spotlight.
  3. Now with the krona down 44 percent against the U.S. dollar compared to a year ago and most of Iceland's banks close to bankruptcy, this nation of 313,000 is taking another look at the incredible resources boiling away under their feet.
  4. The number of projects using geothermal power has lagged behind wind, solar, and biofuels for many years; but, since 2004, projects in the U.S. have doubled, and countries; such as, Indonesia have set ambitious goals for geothermal generation.
  5. Over the years, Icelandic engineers have learned which temperature enables underground liquids to power a turbine, how to manage a boiling cavern's chemistry, and how to keep power plants sustainable by "resting" boreholes to give the source time to replenish its heat.
  6. While the ongoing costs of a geothermal power plant are low, the start-up technology needed to extract heat from a few miles beneath the earth's surface and convert it to electricity is not cheap.
  7. By some estimates, conducting the necessary geologic surveys and exploratory drilling for one plant can take up to eight years and 20 million U.S. dollars before the turbines can start turning.
  8. That big, high-risk investment will only come down with the development of better technology.
  9. "There are over 100 countries that could do the same thing we have with their resources."-Olafur Grimsson, President of Iceland.
—Compiled from excerpts of
"Energy Boiling Point" by Krista Mahr;
Time; December 15, 2008; pages 40-42.

You may also access the geo- unit from here.