Geothermal energy is the energy stored in the form of heat below the surface of the solid earth. The heat content of the earth would cover our current global energy needs for 30 million years. Calculated by human standards, the energy reserves stored in the earth are just as inexhaustible as those of the sun. Consequently, and as far as it can be extracted and used, geothermal energy belongs to the renewable energies.
Environmentally friendly geothermal energy still leads a shadowy existence in many places, although it has many advantages: it is neither dependent on climatic conditions nor on daily and seasonal fluctuations and is therefore capable of providing a base load, reliable and available when there is a corresponding demand for energy. In addition, geothermal plants for heat and/or power generation require little space above ground, so that they can be easily integrated into the landscape or urban landscape.
How it works
Our earth is shell-shaped. Under the very thin crust of the earth follows the mantle of the earth and inside is the core of the earth, outside liquid and inside solid. In Central Europe, the temperature in the uppermost layers of the earth increases on average by 3 °C per 100 m. The temperature in the uppermost mantle is about 1,200 °C, while in the core of the earth it is over 5,000 °C according to current knowledge. Geothermal energy cannot be applied everywhere, as the thickness and temperature of the earth’s mantle varies heavily – While Iceland is perfectly suited (think about geysers and hot pools) a mountainous region such as Switzerland is often less well suited (you will need to drill through the entire mountain first).
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