Farewell Fossil Fuels: Reviewing America's Energy Policy

By Sidney Borowitz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 13
NONSOLAR ENERGY SOURCES: GEOTHERMAL AND TIDES

GEOTHERMAL SOURCES

We have already discussed one form of energy which is not sun- derived, namely nuclear energy. Geothermal energy and tides are two other forms.

An enormous amount of heat is trapped in the interior of Earth. We are reminded of this by the eruption of volcanoes, or by geysers such as Old Faithful in Wyoming, and by the hot springs that many use to cure ailments. Indeed some estimates indicate that the interior energy is 35 billion times the amount consumed annually on Earth. About 60 percent of this is linked to the planet's formation and 40 percent is heat generated by the radioactive elements still in Earth's mantle and crust.

Only a small fraction of this energy could become usefully available. Economic and technological reasons limit us to exploring only about eight kilometers below the surface. Even so, there is enough energy in this region to deliver a useful source likely to last thousands of years provided it could be tapped.

Lest this estimate seem an exaggeration, we can refer to an article by Stephen J. Gould, a Harvard University professor, in the March, 1996 issue of Natural History. He describes the recently discovered realm of living things which subsist on energy not derived

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Farewell Fossil Fuels: Reviewing America's Energy Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 7
  • Introduction 9
  • Chapter 1 the Earth Emerges 15
  • Chapter 2 Energy 27
  • Chapter 3 Fossil Fuels 41
  • Chapter 4 Oil 53
  • Chapter 5 Coal 63
  • Chapter 6 Natural Gas 73
  • Chapter 7 Nuclear Energy (fission) 79
  • Chapter 8 Nuclear Energy (fusion) 97
  • Chapter 9 Direct Utilization of Solar Energy 109
  • Chapter 10 Photovoltaics 121
  • Chapter 11 Biomass 135
  • Chapter 12 Energy from Wind and Water 145
  • Chapter 13 Nonsolar Energy Sources: Geothermal and Tides 159
  • Chapter 14 Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (otec) 173
  • Chapter 15 Batteries, Fuel Cells, and Flywheels 183
  • Chapter 16 Conservation 197
  • Chapter 17 a Hydrogen Economy 207
  • Chapter 18 Envoi 211
  • Index 215
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