Geothermal energy is the use of heat from the earth to generate electricity. Geothermal means "earth heat". Geothermal comes from the Greek words geo, (earth) and therme, (heat). It is considered to be a form of renewable energy, but some argue that heat at any one location can eventually be depleted; hence, it may not be strictly renewable.
Geothermal energy can be harnessed by drilling into the earth and releasing the heat in the form of steam or hot water which powers a steam turbine. Certain geological elements can also produce geothermal energy such as hot magma deposits or geysers. Iceland takes advantage of its incredible geological structure to use geothermal power to their advantage. As of recently, 17% of Iceland's total electricity production comes from geothermal energy.
Canada has recently stepped up its geothermal energy efforts, in order to benefit from this semi-renewable energy. Geothermal energy in Canada is becoming more of a reality, as it is for other countries around the world. In Manitoba, Canada, twenty-one schools currently use some form of geothermal system, such as underground pipes, which import cooler air or water in the summer and heat or hot water in the winter.
Geothermal energy is a positive energy source in the environment because it offsets air pollution that otherwise would have been produced by fossil fuel energy sources. There are no major impacts to using geothermal heating or cooling so it is touted as a major alternative energy source with little or no environmental impacts.