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Geothermal energy technology and current status: an overview

The thermal capacity in non-electrical uses (greenhouses, aquaculture, district heating, industrial processes) is 15,14 MW t (year 2000). Financial investments in geothermal electrical and non-electrical uses world-wide in the period 1973鈥1992 were estimated at about US$22,000 million. Present technology makes it possible to control the environmental impact of geothermal exploitation, and an effective and easily implemented policy to encourage geothermal energy development, and the abatement of carbon dioxide emissions would take advantage from the imposition of a carbon tax. The future use of geothermal energy from advanced technologies such as the exploitation of hot dry rock/hot wet rock systems, magma bodies and geopressured reservoirs, is briefly discussed. While the viability of hot dry rock technology has been proven, research and development are still necessary for the other two sources. A brief discussion on training of specialists, geothermal literature, on-line information, and geothermal associations concludes the review.