What is geothermal energy?
Geothermal energy takes advantage of the heat from inside the earth and uses it to sustainably power air conditioning systems and generate renewable electricity.
The origin of the name geothermal energy comes from the Greek words geo (earth) and thermos (heat). In other words, the energy that comes from the heat of the Earth. It is clean, renewable energy that, if well used, is never-ending. As such, we have yet another alternative with which to achieve a green and sustainable energy supply.
The birth of geothermal energy
Although the thermal force of nature has been known since ancient times with the dreaded volcanic eruptions, the ability to take advantage of that heat from the Earth's interior and transform it into geothermal energy began in the nineteenth century.
In 1818, Francesco Giacomo Larderel decided to use steam from the nearby geothermal waters of Montecerboli (Italy) to heat the boilers in a chemical factory producing boric acid and managed to increase both productivity and energy savings.
It had such an important financial impact on the area that, as a tribute to Larderel, the town that was built around the factory was named Larderello. Currently, a very interesting place to visit and that we recommend in the post on energy tourism.
About 100 years later, 1904 can be considered as the year of the birth of geothermal power plants for the production of electricity. Based on Larderel's ingenuity, a power station was built that lit up five light bulbs.
Geothermal energy had proven its usefulness, and that plant was followed by many others. In 1913, Larderello 1 came into operation which, thanks to the geothermal energy of the hot springs, was able to generate more than 2,700 kW of electricity, used for the railway and the electricity consumption of the villages in the area.
Italy is currently the sixth largest producer of electricity from geothermal energy in the world, with 34 plants belonging to Enel Green Power. Another interesting case is that of Reykjavik (capital of Iceland) which has the largest geothermal energy heating system in the world and has made it possible to considerably reduce polluting emissions.
Geothermal energy in Spain
Geothermal energy is not widespread in production plants in Spain, with wind energy being more commonly used or solar energy.
However, this has not prevented geothermal energy from being used in climate control systems in many modern constructions of homes and buildings in our country.
A few meters down, the temperature of the earth has a much more constant temperature than on the surface, with average temperatures of around 15-20 °C. This stable temperature can be used to exchange the heat from the building, helping to cool it in summer and heat it in winter. This makes it possible to reduce the electricity and gas consumption needs of the entire installation.