The majority of geothermal power facilities in the United States are located in the West. The majority of geothermal power facilities in the United States are located in western states and Hawaii, where geothermal energy supplies are abundant. Geothermal energy is used to create the most electricity in California. Nevada has more than twice as much geothermal energy as all other states combined.
Geothermal energy is heat derived from deep within the Earth's crust and mantle. The heat source is contained within a reservoir called a hot spot. Heat flows from the hot spot through the rock and is released into the surrounding rock layer at some point. This process creates an area of relatively high temperature (above 200 degrees Fahrenheit). Water circulating through the ground is able to reach these higher temperatures when it contacts mineral deposits in the rock. As water reaches higher temperatures, it becomes less dense than cooler water, so it rises toward the surface. This effect causes water that is circulating in the ground near a geothermal site to lift debris with it as it flows to the surface. This material includes metal objects such as screws and nails that over time become entrained in the fluid flow.
At the surface, this fluid is directed into cooling towers or heating pads to produce electricity and avoid environmental damage from excessive steam production. Electricity is generated by devices called heat pumps that use the temperature difference between the ground fluid and air outside to move heat from one location to another.
California All of the geothermal facilities in the United States are situated in the west, largely in California or Nevada. California has 91 percent of the country's steam-powered capacity, while Nevada has 65 percent of the country's binary-cycle capacity.
Geographically, the majority of these facilities are located in the Imperial and Mojave Deserts. The best known site is probably the Palm Springs area, where seven different projects using steam from deep wells are operating or under construction. Another large operation is located in the Lemoore area of Central California's fertile San Joaquin Valley. This state agency project uses water from shallow wells that often draw on ground water sources that contain high levels of arsenic and other minerals.
The final two projects are both solar-powered: one operates in Arizona and one in New Mexico. No geothermal facilities have yet been built in Alaska or Hawaii.
Of the nine current commercial steam plants, six were built between 1990 and 1999. Only one was built before 1990, and it isn't working anymore. The remaining three were all built between 2000 and 2009. It looks like a new generation of plants is being built now that uses improved technology. There haven't been any new major plants built since 2009, but several smaller projects have been completed or are underway currently.
In conclusion, most geothermal facilities are located in California or Nevada.
In several nations, geothermal energy is used to generate electricity. We have abundant geothermal resources in Canada but no power plants. The unpredictability of resources, as well as the related investment risk, is a major factor for this lack of growth. Western Canada has the finest geothermal resources. But the technology needed to harness them does not yet exist.
The main advantage of using geothermal energy as opposed to other renewable technologies is its constant availability even during cold or hot seasons. However, this advantage can be offset by the fact that production depends on the weather and can fluctuate greatly from year to year. Also, drilling for geothermal wells requires significant capital investment. Finally, geothermal energy tends to be more expensive than other renewable technologies.
Currently, there are two large-scale geothermal projects in Canada: one in British Columbia and one in New Brunswick. Both were approved before 2000 and neither has started operating yet. There are also some small pilot projects testing different technology solutions.
Geothermal energy could play an important role in reducing Canada's dependence on fossil fuels if the right conditions were in place. Investing in this sector now would help avoid any potential shortage of heat during the next few decades while waiting for technology to catch up.
The main barrier to wider adoption of geothermal energy in Canada is the high cost of development. However, recent declines in price have reduced this concern for some investors.
The majority of geothermal resources are found near the earth's tectonic plates. The most active geothermal resources are often found at major tectonic plate borders, which is where the majority of volcanoes are located. Less active geothermal reservoirs are found inside continents, while extremely inactive reservoirs are found in oceans or frozen lands.
Scientists have discovered that there are three main types of geothermal systems: hot springs, geysers and lava tubes. Hot springs and geysers are located on surface land; while lava tubes are hollow spaces within a volcano that contain hot water from below ground. Some researchers believe that deep under the ocean there may be a fourth type of system called a "hot spot". This is an area where the heat comes from deep within the planet itself, rather than being released by a volcanic eruption or asteroid impact.
Most scientists believe that the majority of Earth's energy is still locked up in the planet's interior, but some studies have estimated that all the oil, gas, and coal that has been extracted so far still wouldn't be enough to meet global energy needs by 2050. This means that we need to find new sources of energy, such as solar power and nuclear fusion, but these technologies are not yet efficient or safe enough for widespread use.
One solution could be using geothermal energy instead.
Nevada Geothermal, Polaris Geothermal, and Western GeoPower are three modest, publicly listed North American enterprises with global potential. They all focus on technology development and license acquisition for use in residential and commercial markets.
They are the only companies that we know of that are developing new applications for this technology. Other companies may come along and join them, but as of now they are the only players in the game.
Nevada Geothermal is the largest developer of residential geothermal systems in the United States. Based in Summerlin, Nevada, it was founded in 1991 and has offices in Hawaii, Mexico, and Canada. It licenses its technology and operates research centers in Hawaii and Mexico. It has developed and patented technology for using heat from the Earth's core for heating and cooling buildings.
Polaris Development Company is a Canadian company that develops residential geothermal systems. It was founded in 1992 and is based in Volcano, Hawai'i. It has offices in Canada, the United States, and Germany. Like Nevada Geothermal, it licenses its technology and operates research centers in Hawaii and Mexico. Its first system was installed in 1993.
Western GeoPower is the only geothermal company not based in North America.