Geothermal Energy

“Geothermal energy is potentially the largest—and presently the most misunderstood—source of energy in the U.S. and the world today.” – Al Gore

Geothermal Energy Applications & Uses

Geothermal energy can fuel a range of industries, from agriculture to power production. Lower levels of heat found near the Earth’s surface can be used for activities such as processing food, or heating and cooling buildings, greenhouses, and homes. But drilling deeper beneath the surface to higher temperatures allows for one of geothermal energy’s key uses: electricity generation.

Global Capacity

Over the last decade, the installed geothermal power generation capacity has gradually increased. Nearly 30 countries now use geothermal energy for electricity production. The United States currently leads production globally, followed by Indonesia and the Philippines.

Source: Global geothermal energy capacity 2009-2021, Statista

History of Geothermal

History of Geothermal

More than 10,000 years ago

The first known use of geothermal energy occurs when the Paleo-Indians use hot springs for cooking and bathing.

1830

The first known commercial use of geothermal energy, when Asa Thompson charges one dollar each for the use of three spring-fed baths in a wooden tub in Hot Springs, Arkansas. 

1892

Boise, Idaho uses direct geothermal energy to pipe hot water from nearby hot springs into town buildings, marking the first district heating system.

1922

John D. Grant develops the first geothermal power plant in the U.S., reaching a capacity of 250 kilowatts. But with low outputs and technical issues, the plant stops being used.

1904

Prince Piero Ginori Conti tests the first geothermal power generator, successfully lighting four lightbulbs. He continues on to invent the first geothermal power plant at the Larderello dry stream field.

1946

The first ground-source geothermal heat pump is installed to heat the Commonwealth Building in Portland, Oregon.

1960

Pacific Gas and Electric begins operation of the first large scale geothermal power plant, where the first turbine produces 11 megawatts of net power.

1972

The Geothermal Resources Council, now known as Geothermal Rising, forms an association for the international geothermal community.

1977

The energy crisis of the 1970s hastens the government’s role in the energy field, and in 1977, the U.S. Department of Energy is formed.

2020

The U.S., Indonesia, Philippines, Turkey, New Zealand, and Mexico have 72% of global installed geothermal power capacity.

2022 and beyond

Geothermal energy usage and production continue to grow, and EnhancedGEO plans to implement enhanced geothermal techniques to help power the movement towards clean, renewable energy around the world.


Sources: Geothermal History, energy4me
A History of Geothermal Energy in America, energy.gov

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