168: Geothermal energy


Consuming fossil fuels above the earth to heat buildings is very energy-consuming.


Binary below-earth or geothermal power plants emit close to no GHGs in the world’s atmosphere and are extremely eco-friendly. Geothermal energy is ranked among some of the most efficient in cooling and heating systems available today. It uses a relatively low amount of power due to their low electricity requirement.

As of 2004, there were over a million units installed worldwide providing 12 GW of thermal capacity. Each year, about 80,000 units are installed in the US (geothermal energy is used in all 50 U.S. states today, with great potential for near-term market growth and savings) and 27,000 in Sweden.

In Finland, a geothermal heat pump was the most common heating system choice for new detached houses between 2006 and 2011 with market share exceeding 40%.

The International Geothermal Association (IGA) has reported that 10,715 MWs (MW) of geothermal power in 24 countries is online, reaching 13.33 GW of electricity in 2018.

One solution for geothermal energy is to use a groundwater heat pump system, which works by recovering heat stored naturally in groundwater or aquifers. The water passes through heat pumps to yield its low grade heat before being returned to the aquifer at a lower temperature.

Between 2015 and 2018, researchers of British Geological Survey (BGS) gathered data from a natural ground-water network of 61 bore-holes below the city of Cardiff, Wales to examine whether similar systems might be created across the UK and provide new and alternative energy supplies in the subsurface.

The study concludes that large parts of the aquifer can sustain shallow open loop ground source heat pump systems, as long as the local ground conditions support the required groundwater abstraction and re-injection rates.

Discover Solution 169: Glacial engineering

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