Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Australia: Nice Overview of Geothermal Energy by Australian Academy of Science

Feeling the heat: geothermal energy (Nova.org)

Geothermal energy is a clean, green resource with the potential to power Australia for millennia.

Our planet is feeling the heat—but it’s not all from climate change and the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Some of the heat is coming from within Earth itself; and rather than causing global warming it has the potential to wean us off fossil fuels for good.

There seems to be enough geothermal energy to keep us all ‘rocking’. Earth’s total heat content has been calculated at 12.6 x 1024 megajoules, which would meet the world’s current energy needs for several billion years.

Unfortunately, most of this is inaccessible; but tapping just a fraction of it would make a substantial contribution in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It has been estimated that in Australia, using just 1 per cent of the geothermal energy shallower than 5 kilometres and hotter than 150°C could supply all our energy requirements for 26,000 years (and then some, as this figure does not take into account geothermal energy’s renewability). Geothermal exponents talk about an ‘almost limitless’ supply of energy. The challenge is tapping into it in a cost-effective way.

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