Geothermal energy taps into the nearly limitless potential of energy in the earths core. For thousands of years humans have used this energy from hot springs. Technology has allowed the harnessing of this heat to produce electricity. A newer technology,Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS), allows for greater development of geothermal energy in the years to come in areas previously thought unsuitable. In part because of the vast potential of energy production and subsequent minuscule carbon footprint, the Department of Energy has dramatically increased funding for research and development of geothermal projects.
Ground source heat pumps are often called geothermal, although the energy utilize the sun’s energy stored in the earth’s surface. These pumps often go by different names and are used for small scale heating and cooling rather than production of electricity.
Link to Google Earth Map of Geothermal potential in the US.
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View Geothermal Laws in a larger map