When there are a couple dominant forces in an industry, there is usually an underdog with similar or higher capabilities being overlooked. In the world of alternative energy, geothermal energy is that underdog.
Typically, when people think of alternative or renewable energy sources, giant windmills or huge solar panel fields pop into their minds. However, geothermal energy is cheaper than wind and solar, as well as fully renewable and clean.
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Geothermal energy can also be harvested almost anywhere in the world, and is currently used to power large industrial complexes, as well as individual homes.
America has not seen geothermal become a primary source of energy … yet. However, its market is expected to grow by about 70% over the next four years.
Geothermal Energy – A Great Renewable Energy Source
The way that geothermal energy is harvested is simple: Hot water from the earth’s crust is pumped up, and the steam is used to generate power. After that power has been harvested, the water is pumped back down into the earth, creating a great renewable energy source.
Not only does geothermal energy help create a cleaner environment, it’s also a much more energy-efficient alternative to fossil fuels. As a comparison, for every unit of energy used to extract the resource, an average of 3.9 units of heat are supplied by geothermal, compared to less than 1 unit supplied by gas and oil.
In fact, the demand for geothermal energy is seeing growth across the globe:
- Japan plans to increase its capacity from 540 megawatts in 2011 to 1,500 megawatts in 2030.
- El Salvador currently uses geothermal energy to power 22% of its electricity, and wants to increase that number to 40% by 2019.
- Kenya now relies on geothermal energy more than any other source.
- Recently, Iceland tapped into its own geothermal well, and now has plans to use it to power up to 50,000 homes.
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Lastly, geothermal has a distinct cost advantage over other alternative energy sources such as wind and solar. To put the magnitude of this cost savings in perspective, a normal 2,000-square-foot home can be heated or cooled by geothermal power for as little as $1 a day.
With low costs like that, as well as no risk of carbon monoxide or other harmful fumes, people will be jumping on the geothermal bandwagon as the technology becomes more widespread and well-known.
By 2020, a homeowner will pay just a fraction of the cost of other energy sources, to the tune of 35% less than wind power, the second-cheapest alternative, and 62% less than solar.
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While geothermal power is years from hitting the mainstream, the technology is there now and is already a primary source of power in some countries.
Other countries that rely on fossil fuels, such as the U.S., have not yet gained the capacity to produce as much power from a geothermal plant as an equally sized nonrenewable power plant. But you can see that it is a large priority based on the industry forecasts and a commitment to expand the geothermal industry by the United States Department of Energy.
Profits Unlimited Editor Paul Mampilly has even written a special report on the geothermal industry, where he reveals the best company to own to benefit from the surge of interest in geothermal energy.
Being efficient, low-cost and environmentally friendly, I believe geothermal will be an alternative energy source that we see more and more over the next decade.