We live between two great sources of energy, the hot rocks beneath the surface of the earth and the sun in the sky. Our ancestors knew the value of geothermal energy; they bathed and coke in hot springs. Today we have recognized that this resource has potential for much broader application.
The core of the earth is very hot and it is possible to make use of this geothermal energy (in Greek it means heat from the earth). These are areas where there are volcanoes, hot springs, and geysers, and methane under the water in the oceans and seas. In some countries, such as in the USA water is pumped from underground hot water deposits and used to heat people’s houses.
The utilization of geothermal energy for the production of electricity dates back to the early part of the twentieth century. For 50 years the generation of electricity from geothermal energy was confined to Italy and interest in this technology was slow to spread elsewhere. In 1943 the use of geothermal hot water was pioneered in Iceland.
In India, Northwestern Himalayas and the western coast are considered geothermal areas. The Geological Survey of India has already identified more than 350 hot spring sites, which can be explored as areas to tap geothermal energy. Satellites like the IRS-1 have played an important role, through infrared photographs of the ground, in locating geothermal areas. The Puga valley in the Ladakh region has the most promising geothermal field. An experimental 1-kW generator is already in operation in this area. It is being used mainly for poultry farming, mushroom cultivation, and pashmina-wool processing, all of which need higher temperature.