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Harnessing Geothermal Energy

Nesjavellir Geothermal Plant

Ever think to yourself, "California and Iceland sure have a lot in common"?

Probably not.

But if you dig beneath the surface, they both harbor lots of potential geothermal energy.

The difference is that while less than five percent of California's power is geothermal, more than 27 percent of Iceland's is. And they've been using it for 70 years.

That all adds up to a lot of experience. This is why Iceland Electric Energy opened an office in L.A. recently to share their knowledge with the Golden State.

Iceland's government is also lobbying Congress to help on a national level. According to Prime Minister Geir Haarde, "the U.S. has a lot of untapped potential." And his country could help release that "by sharing its know-how."

Geothermal power is typically produced by pumping water into rock heated by the earth's mantle. The water turns to steam that propels turbines to generate electricity. It's practically pollution free.

Most power produced in the United States, on the other hand, comes from coal -- a not so clean source. So we could use Iceland's help developing something cleaner.

Who knows? Maybe Californians could teach them to surf.

Script by Stephen Webb

Discovery Links

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