The warm water created by Iceland’s Nesjavellir Power Plant, above, is pumped up the mountain behind the plant to the residents of Reykjavík, 27 kilometers (16.8 miles) away. The pipeline is so well insulated that the water only loses 1.8 degrees Celsius (3.2 degrees Fahrenheit) on its journey.

Photograph by Stuart Thornton

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    1. Read the Fast Facts first!

      Is geothermal energy considered a renewable energy? Why?

      Yes. Geothermal energy is drawn from the Earth's internal heat, which does not change or run out like non-renewable sources of energy, such as oil and coal.

    2. What country generates the most geothermal energy?

      The United States generates the most geothermal energy.

    3. How much heat is lost as the water moves through the pipeline from the geothermal power station to Reykjavik? Why?

      The pipeline is so well-insulated that the water only loses 1.8° Celsius (3.2° Fahrenheit) on its journey.

    4. Imagine that you run a geothermal power plant like the Nesjavellir Power Plant. You want to make the plant more environmentally friendly. What are some other ways you can use renewable energies to make the plant more environmentally sound?

      Possible response: You can use solar or wind power to pump the warm water to the town.

    • Geothermal energy is extracted from within the Earth. Magma heats up rocks and water in the crust. The heated water and steam from the rocks then make their way to Earth's surface.
    • Renewable energies are power sources that won't run out.
    • Geothermal heat is a renewable energy because it is continually being produced in the Earth.
    • The United States generates more geothermal energy than any other country.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    climate change Noun

    gradual changes in all the interconnected weather elements on our planet.

    Encyclopedic Entry: climate change
    geothermal energy Noun

    heat energy generated within the Earth.

    non-renewable energy Noun

    energy resources that are exhaustible relative to the human life span, such as gas, coal, or petroleum.

    Encyclopedic Entry: non-renewable energy
    power plant Noun

    industrial facility for the generation of electric energy.

    renewable energy Noun

    energy obtained from sources that are virtually inexhaustible and replenish naturally over small time scales relative to the human life span.