When you walk through Yellowstone National Park you can hear the energy from the earth bubbling up all around you. There are over 10,000 thermal features in Yellowstone. It’s amazing! This is geothermal energy, a great source of renewable energy.
Geothermal isn’t widely used. In the United States, geothermal energy accounts for less than one percent of all energy consumed. Globally, communities and governments have tapped into only 6-7 percent of the potential geothermal power.
Not all geothermal energy sources are available for use. For example, harnessing the heat energy in Yellowstone Park is not an option. In the U.S., most of the accessible geothermal energy is found in seven states – California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Oregon and Hawaii. Some of the advantages of geothermal energy are: (1) it can be extracted without burning a fossil fuel such as coal, gas or oil; (2) it is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; and (3) harnessing it leaves a small carbon footprint. The disadvantages are: (1) many of the geothermal resources are located in, or near, protected areas; (2) the water is often mineral-rich and may also contain toxic heavy metals like mercury and arsenic; and (3) earthquakes can be triggered when developing geothermal power plants.
Research and technological advancements in the area of geothermal energy look promising. Worldwide, countries are focusing on advancing renewable energy sources. In April 2016, 174 countries and the European Union signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Industry predictions are for a worldwide five-fold increase in geothermal. The top geothermal producing countries are Indonesia, United States, and Mexico. There is great growth potential in Caribbean countries, Chile and Kenya. Learn more about geothermal energy at https://energy.gov/eere/forge/geothermal-basics – and be sure to add Yellowstone Park to your bucket list.