Our Geothermal Energy Company Explores
While we rely on natural energy resources like coal and natural gas, we don’t often think to turn to the Earth’s most active source of energy – volcanoes. There are thousands of volcanoes around the world and according to scientists, about 1,500 are potentially active. This means that there is natural geothermal energy all around us, and if we can tap into it and harness it, we may have a reliable energy source that could be used in the future.
The country of Iceland has already set an example for relying solely on natural energy resources, and around one quarter of their energy is produced by geothermal activity. One way they’re harnessing this energy is through steam. On the southwestern coast of the continent is the Reykjanes Peninsula, which is home to 12 geothermal wells that produce 600-degree steam. This steam is filtered into a power plant and results in around 100 megawatts of power for the area.
Another way of harnessing volcanic activity is through a volcano’s super-heated water. In 2009, Icelandic scientists drilled into Krafla, an active volcanic crater, hoping to reach a source of water so hot, it’s known as “supercritical”. The project was abandoned when they struck magma, but instead of giving up, the scientists recently revisited the drilled hole and found that it had naturally filled up with hot water (not supercritical, but still over 800 degrees Fahrenheit). Their plan is to create a well power plant that can turn the water into energy.
The country of Indonesia has also been taking advantage of geothermal resources. The area is home to more active volcanoes than any other country in the world and right now, Indonesians are also harnessing the hot steam and water from these volcanoes and are turning it into energy. They are currently only tapping into around 5 percent of the potential 29-gigawatt capacity, however, but there are plans for future projects (62, to be exact) to increase production.
With so many other active volcanoes on the planet, we could see a large jump in geothermal dependency. According to the United Nations, there are an estimated 200 gigawatts of energy reserves around the world and although geothermal power plants aren’t cheap (a 25-megawatt plant costs around $35 million), they could unlock the key to natural, self-sustaining energy sources worldwide.