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Places Around the World that Use Geothermal Energy

Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik (rayk-yah-vick) gets 90 % of its heat for homes and public buildings by directing hot water from the earth into a system of pipes under the streets. Natural hot water is also used in swimming pools, washing machines, and showers. Large greenhouses heated by the earth’s hot water make it possible for Icelanders to grow fruits and vegetables that would otherwise never survive in the bare, cold countryside. Part way across the world, Klamath Falls, Oregon, uses geothermal district heating systems — heating that runs through areas of town called districts. Neither city has much need for air conditioning.

The City of San Bernardino, California, uses geothermal energy directly in a district-heating program. The city of San Bernardino is located near several earthquake fault zones, including the San Jacinto, Loma Linda, and San Andreas faults. The consequences of being close to these faults is that, since the turn of the century, residents of San Bernardino have enjoyed natural heat in the form of steam baths and hot springs. Many wells in the valley are between 120º and 140º F. The heating district lies in the southwest portion of the city and currently serves more than 35 public and private buildings. Similarly, geothermal water warms greenhouses in Idaho, nurtures fish in Utah, and provides hot baths at resorts in Virginia.

The Geysers, in California, is the world’s largest producer of renewable geothermal power. The dry steam field has successfully produced power since the early 1960s, when Pacific Gas & Electric installed the first 11 MW plant. Today, nearly 2,000 MW are on line — enough energy to supply the needs of San Francisco and Oakland.