GEOTHERMAL: The Basics

What is it?

Geothermal is simply energy derived from the Earth’s own natural heat. It is contained within the rocks and fluids beneath the surface of the Earth and has been found and accessed all over the world since ancient times.

How is it used?

Geothermal resources are found in underground reservoirs and are used to generate electricity, heat and cool buildings directly, grow food like produce and fish and in industrial processes.

How is it produced?

Wells are drilled into underground reservoirs to access existing hot fluid. This fluid is brought to the surface of the Earth where the heat it contains is used in any number of possible applications. Once the heat has been used, the subsequently cooled ‘waste’ fluid is sent back down into the underground reservoir it was pulled from via another well(s) so that it can reheat. The fluid eventually makes its way back toward the first well where it is used once again in a continuous, sustainable cycle of renewable energy production.

Advantages
  • It is extracted and used without using any additional fuel usage

  • It is considered a fully renewable, clean energy resource

  • It produces little to no emissions

  • It is always available, rain or shine, wind or calm. It runs 24 hours/day, 365 days/year

  • It is relatively inexpensive. It has the lowest levelized cost of any renewable energy option, and is even competitive with conventional energy sources derived from fossil fuels (Source: IRENA 2012, Figure 10.1, p.79)

  • It can be found all over the world and exists in abundance in western Canada

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