Geothermal Energy: The Renewable Energy Source That Can Save Us All

What is Geothermal Energy?

There’s a lot of talk about impending climate doom. Make no mistake: if we don’t find clean, renewable sources of energy, we are certainly done for. The good news is we’ve already found a clean, renewable energy source that can save us all. It’s called geothermal energy.

If you’ve never heard of geothermal energy before, it might sound complicated or intimidating. But it’s really simple: geothermal energy is the energy from within the Earth.

Champagne Pool at Waiotapu geothermal area, New Zealand. Photo by Ning Tai
Champagne Pool at Waiotapu geothermal area in New Zealand. Photo credit: Ning Tai (entry in 2015 GRC Photo Contest)
How is Geothermal Energy a Renewable Energy Source?

Think back to elementary school science class. Remember learning about potential energy? Potential energy is energy that is stored, ready to be turned in to kinetic energy—energy in action. 

Ok, now remember learning that heat rises? Even if you didn’t learn it in school, you’ve seen it in life. That’s why it’s usually warmer upstairs. That’s why hot water boils. That’s why hot air balloons float. Heat turns potential energy into kinetic energy.

The Earth is literally full of potential energy. 

The Earth has many layers. The surface, or the crust—where we all live—may seem cold and hard. But dig a little deeper, and things get hot, fast. The center of Earth, the core, is as hot as the surface of the sun. This heat within the Earth rises, too.

The heat within the Earth is renewable because it will never run out. The core will always be hot, and heat will always rise.

Photo of Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park. Photo credit: Geothermal Rising
Photo of Grand Prismatic Spring taken during a 2015 GRC workshop at Yellowstone National Park. Photo credit: Geothermal Rising
What are Some Examples of Geothermal Energy in Action?

You can see geothermal energy in action around the world. When Old Faithful spouts water high in the sky or Mt. Kilauea erupts, it’s because the heat from within the Earth rises and converts potential energy to kinetic energy. 

Not all examples of geothermal energy are so explosive. Icelanders cook their famous hverabrauð, or lava bread, by burying a dough made of flour, buttermilk, and a few other ingredients in a metal container near geothermal steam vents that naturally occur throughout the country. 24 hours later, geothermal energy turns this dough into delicious rye bread.

Iceland doesn’t just use geothermal energy to bake bread. Geothermal energy powers 30% of Iceland’s electricity.  


Stock photo of planet Earth
Using Geothermal Energy to Save the Earth

So, if the Earth holds all this potential energy, why aren’t we using it? 

One reason is that we haven’t always had the technology to access geothermal energy around the world. Places where heat from within the Earth naturally rises to the surface, like Iceland and New Zealand, have always used geothermal energy—to bake bread, relax in hot springs, and heat their homes. 

Today we have the technology to use geothermal energy to sustainably power daily life around the world. In fact, many of the tools we use to access unsustainable fossil fuels can be repurposed for unlocking this clean, renewable energy source. This will help ease and speed up the transition from a limited energy source that hurts the planet to an energy source that helps the planet that will never run out.

The main reason geothermal energy is not used today is that few people know about it. If people do know about it, they associate it with violent Earth events, like volcanoes. We can change that. 

The Earth has enough renewable energy to save us all, if only we take steps now to use it. 

Join us as we work to use the earth to save the earth.