Back to Basics Video: What Is Geothermal Energy Anyway?

Geothermal energy is the Earth’s own renewable energy.  All other renewables and in fact, all other forms of energy, hinge on the sun: wind power, solar power, even fossil fuels wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the sun.  (And neither would we, of course.)

If you are even slightly knowledgeable about geothermal energy, you probably understand that it uses high temperature water and steam found deep underneath the earth’s surface to make power.  To oversimplify the process, first geologists determine that an area of high temperature exists underground. Second drillers bore into the earth in order to better assess and tap into the resource. If the resource proves to be viable enough, a power plant can be constructed on top of it.  Hot water that is converted to steam is then used to drive turbines to make electricity.

A tiny country in the North Atlantic Ocean has perfected the art of geothermal discovery, drilling and utilization.  Iceland currently derives 25 percent of its electrical power from geothermal energy and the resource also provides more than 90 percent of the country’s heat and hot water.  Reykjavik Energy, the utility that provides this baseload renewable energy to Icelanders has put together a fantastically informative video that details how geothermal energy is created.  It also shows what other areas of the world have the potential to use geothermal energy to provide heat and power to its inhabitants.  Check it out below.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at

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