Geothermal Energy Jobs
Geothermal power is energy generated from heat stored in the earth. As of 2008, geothermal power supplies less than 1% of the world's energy. The most common type of geothermal power plants are closed cycle operations and release essentially no emissions; geothermal power is available 24 hours a day with average availability above 90% (compared to about 75% for coal plants)
Geothermal resources range from shallow ground to hot water and rock several miles below the Earth's surface, and even further down to the extremely hot molten rock called magma. Wells over a mile deep can be drilled into underground reservoirs to tap steam and very hot water that can be brought to the surface for use in a variety of applications.
Low to medium temperature (70° to 225°F) water reservoirs can be used directly to heat buildings, grow and dry crops, melt snow on sidewalks, and for fish farms. This is called the direct use of geothermal energy. The energy produced from high temperature reservoirs (225° to 600°F) can spin a turbine to generate electricity.
Jobs in Geothermal Energy
The geothermal industry employs both skilled workers and those with professional degrees.
Developing hot water reservoirs requires geologists, geochemists, geophysicists, hydrologists, reservoir engineers, mud loggers, hydraulic engineers, and drillers to locate, assess, and access the reservoirs. Environmental scientists prepare environmental impact studies, and permit and leasing specialists obtain the land rights.
Geothermal direct-use technologies create jobs for heating engineers, and in the building and agricultural industries. For electricity production, engineers (electrical and mechanical) and construction workers—along with electrical technicians, electricians, electrical machinists, welders, riggers, and mechanics—are needed to design and construct power plants.
Mechanical engineers, geologists, drilling crews, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contractors are needed to manufacture and install GHPs. In addition, mechanical and electronic engineers, geologists, chemists, and materials scientists are required for ongoing R&D.