Geothermal Energy Systems

By Arron Ellis
(May 2012)

Compared to nuclear energy, geothermal energy is a vastly safer and renewable resource. Geothermal energy is traditionally a steam-powered process. It works by utilizing the natural heat that Earth creates on its own. This is done by placing large rods deep into the Earth’s core. The heat is then trapped and used usually in one of two ways. Either it converts water into steam to turn turbines, or thermal rods are used capture the heat and distribute the energy throughout the established complex (DiPippio, 2008). The idea is both self-sustainable and very practical.

A schematic diagram of geothermal power generation (source: Union of Concerned Scientists)

The application of geothermal energy is already happening in the modern world. Walgreen’s is a company that has begun to apply the use of geothermal energy to singlehandedly power some of their pharmacies. One particular store is close to home. In Oak Park, Illinois, a fully geothermal Walgreens is up and running, saving the company money while augmenting its corporate social responsibilities efforts (Business Wire, 2011). Even non-corporate entities are beginning to adapt this source of energy. In Rockford, Illinois, a Christian outreach group built an entire complex around geothermal energy. They also incorporated solar panels to make the building an efficient renewable resource-powered structure (Powell, 2009).

The only issue with using geothermal energy is that it is most effective when it is part of the blueprint of a building’s structure. Geothermal energy does not need to be included in a building’s design initially, but it is more easily incorporated if considered during construction. The Walgreen’s facility in Oak Park, for example, was built with the idea of using geothermal power as the primary energy source.

The application of geothermal energy to Schaumburg has great potential for the Village. This is because there are a lot commercial and business structures in the city. Again, the issue will be converting the already standing structures into geothermal units; but it is not impossible. It will just require time and effort. The combination of geothermal energy with solar power and wind and power would provide the community with an effective and sustainable renewable energy infrastructure.

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