The term geothermal comes from the Greek words geo (earth) and therme (heat). For this energy source, steam and hot water from inside the earth is used to heat buildings or generate electricity. Geothermal energy is generated in the earth's core, about 4,000 miles below the surface.
The earth's crust is broken into pieces called plates. Magma comes close to the earth's surface near the edges of these plates. Deep underground, rocks and water absorb heat from the magma. The deeper the water and rocks are underground, the hotter they become. Countries with volcanic landscapes can use geothermal energy to heat their homes and produce electricity through digging wells and pumping heated underground water or steam to the surface. Stable temperatures near the surface of the earth can also be used to heat and cool buildings.
Iceland is currently the leading country in use of geothermal energy, with 26.5% of its power generated from this resource. The Philippines are the second largest producer of geothermal power in the world. As of 2001, geothermal generation accounted for 22.2 percent of its power. Currently, geothermal energy production in the United States is on track to double in the next few years.
Manitoba is the lead jurisdiction in Canada for both manufacture and installation of geothermal systems for both residences and commercial buildings.
Geothermal Water Heaters
A geothermal system is more expensive to install than a conventional heating and air conditioning system, but its use can result in annual heating costs 50 to 70 per cent lower than an average heating system. This system has increased reliability and a lower impact due to increased energy savings. Financing for this system is available through the Manitoba Residential Earth Power Loan and eco-ENERGY Retrofit grant.