The Energy is a Hot Topic Course is designed to provide a foundational understanding of geothermal energy. Students learn about how and where earth’s heat is formed, specifically radioactive heat sources. The curriculum provides insight into how humans can harvest Earth’s natural, subsurface heat in the form of geothermal energy. Students explore how heat travels to the surface to generate electricity and the benefits of using geothermal in our electric grid. Students learn the different types of energy systems within the three main categories of geothermal: high temperature, low temperature, and Enhanced (Engineered) Geothermal Systems. The course explains how geography and geology greatly influence the placement of geothermal systems.
Students learn how all energy technologies, from traditional fossil based sources to renewables like solar and wind, have some environmental impact. This lesson explores the environmental considerations and impacts for geothermal energy. Geothermal has one of the lowest lifecycle carbon emissions, smallest land footprint, and low water contamination concerns of all renewable energy technologies. Mitigation of environmental concerns is largely founded on the immense experience gained from using similar technologies in the oil & gas industry. The course also explores ancient societies’ remarkable advances made with geothermal energy. The future of geothermal is also explored where the reader learns about the potential growth of geothermal energy, especially in Texas and other states where hot and dry rocks exist. Students close out the course with a design project to apply their new knowledge.
Throughout the course learners are presented with various Career Spotlights where they can explore the various career-tracks in geothermal through profiles of both individuals working in this energy field, as well as students who have chosen to pursue an educational track in geothermal. In addition, the course discusses the reliance of geothermal on the foundational knowledge gained using similar technologies in the oil & gas industry.