America’s History with Geothermal Heating

October 15, 2018 9:54 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Geothermal energy sources have been used by mankind for thousands of years, and in some parts of the world are extremely important sources of energy that deliver a majority of a region’s power. Iceland, for example, is famous for being almost entirely powered by geothermal energy sources.

Geothermal energy has a big role in the history of the peoples of North America, as well. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that humans first began using geothermal resources in North America more than 10,000 years ago, when Paleo-Indians settled near hot springs on the continent.

But looking at a much smaller timescale, modern humans have been using geothermal energy in North America to great effect. In fact, right here, many of your appliances (including your water heaters in Glenwood Springs, CO) are powered in part by geothermal energy.

Here’s a quick overview of the history of geothermal energy in America and what its usage looks like today.

Early 1800s

When European settlers began to travel west across the continent, they were particularly drawn to places with geothermal energy sources because of their warmth and general vitality. This was especially true around Yellowstone, which is a veritable hotbed of geothermal energy. By the 1830s, entrepreneurs were developing the first known commercial uses of geothermal energy.

Mid- to late 1800s

Geothermal energy sources were no longer just a source of energy and commercial services, but also a destination spot. The Geysers Resort Hotel, located north of San Francisco, opened in 1852 and welcomed numerous famous guests in its years of service, including Mark Twain, Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt.

Homes began to spring up near these geothermal sources, taking advantage of their natural heat, but more and more hotels and resorts began to pop up around them as well. The result was geothermal energy sources being used on a wider scale than ever before. By 1892, Boise, Idaho had the very first district heating system for water in the world, preceding the very first geothermal power plant in 1904 in Larderello, Italy.

Early to mid-1900s

In 1921, John D. Grant unsuccessfully drilled a well at The Geysers in the hopes of generating electricity, but was successful a year later at another site, resulting in the very first American geothermal power plant. After several more wells, the plant was producing 250 kilowatts, enough to light all the streets and buildings at the resort.

Further commercial uses of geothermal energy began to be explored in the western United States across the following decades. In 1948, a professor at Ohio State University developed the very first ground-source heat pump to use at his residence.

Late 1900s to present

By the 1970s, the National Science Foundation was serving as the lead agency for all federal geothermal programs. The federal government enacted the Geothermal Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Act, which instituted the Geothermal Loan Guaranty Program, providing investment security to public and private sectors using new technologies to exploit geothermal resources.

In the decades since, there has been significant development of geothermal technologies. Now, as the world looks for alternative sources to fossil fuels to combat climate change, geothermal technology is considered a real possibility to help take some of the pressure off the earth’s atmosphere.

To learn more about geothermal energy and its uses, including for water heaters in Glenwood Springs, CO, contact Garrett Hansen Plumbing Inc. today.

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