Geothermal energy, the natural heat within the earth, arises from the ancient heat remaining in the Earth's core, fro m friction where continental plates slide beneath each other, and from the decay of radioactive elements that occu r naturally in small amounts in all rocks.

For thousands of years, people have benefited from hot springs and steam vents, using them for bathing, cooking, and heating. During this century, technological advances have made it possible and economic to locate and drill int o hydrothermal reservoirs, pipe the steam or hot water to the surface, and use the heat directly (for space heating, aquaculture, and industrial processes) or to convert the heat into electricity.

The amount of geothermal energy is enormous. Scientists estimate that just 1 percent of the heat contained in just the uppermost 10 kilometers of the earth's crust is equivalent to 500 times the energy contained in all of the earth's oil and gas resources [1].

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