The phrase “geothermal energy” has been around for hundreds of years. The term “geothermal” comes from the Greek words; geo (meaning earth) and terme (meaning heat). This immediately gives us the quick definition, “geothermal energy is heat from the earth”.
A common misconception of geothermal energy lies in the source of this heat. The two sources that heat our earth are the earth’s core and the sun.
The Earth’s core is predicted to be between 3,000 and 4,000 degrees Celsius, and this heat heats the earth all the way up to the land beneath our feet, and drops in temperature all the way.
The sun’s surface is about 5600 degrees Celsius. The heat from the sun heats only the first meters of our earth, and then this heat disappears during the night.
So where does the misconception about geothermal energy really come from? Well, many people think that the fairly modern method of heating water by laying pipes under about 1 meter of soil, is geothermal energy. Many scientists do not agree with this, as geothermal energy should be used to describe the heat energy distributed by the earth’s core.
The variant of geothermal energy that comes from the sun, should actually be described as a ground heat source, because the solar energy can only heat the edge of our crust, before the sun goes down and the heat is lost.
In recent years, companies that used to market “geothermal boilers” have now switched to using the term “geothermal heat pumps”, because a geothermal heat pump uses the sun’s energy, not the heat energy from the earth’s core.
The correct process for the extraction of geothermal energy is associated with geothermal power plants. This extraction is only possible by drilling very deep holes in the earth, so that they can reach a significant level of geothermal energy to heat water and extract steam to power turbines.
So there we have the basic understanding of geothermal energy and the variant of this energy.