Geothermal Energy

If you were to dig a big hole straight down into the Earth, you would notice the temperature getting warmer the deeper you go. That’s because the inside of the Earth is full of heat. This heat is called geothermal energy.

Geothermal Power Plant

At a geothermal power plant, wells are drilled 1 or 2 miles deep into the Earth to pump steam or hot water to the surface. You’re most likely to find one of these power plants in an area that has a lot of hot springs, geysers, or volcanic activity, because these are places where the Earth is particularly hot just below the surface.

How it Works

  1. Hot water is pumped from deep underground through a well under high pressure.
  2. When the water reaches the surface, the pressure is dropped, which causes the water to turn into steam.
  3. The steam spins a turbine, which is connected to a generator that produces electricity.
  4. The steam cools off in a cooling tower and condenses back to water.
  5. The cooled water is pumped back into the Earth to begin the process again.

Source:

Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.epa.gov/climatestudents/solutions/technologies/geothermal.html.