How much does thermal energy actually impact the environment? The answer is, a lot. Thermal energy removes a large amount of stress from the environment by using a renewable source. This renewable source uses no fossil fuels, creates no pollution, and emits no greenhouse gases.
An interesting concept to consider is that 25% of commercial business energy usage comes from cooling, heating, and ventilation. A full 50% of residential energy use is also from these things. Using thermal energy can offset this energy usage from 75% to 100%. This lessens the impact on the environment and on the wallet.
Ocean thermal energy is particularly positive. Nearly 70% of the earth is covered in water, so ocean thermal energy is a very abundant thermal energy source. With many hours of sunlight a day focused on the water, energy is naturally stored there. Ocean thermal energy is created through the difference between the temperature in shallow and deep waters. Newer technology is making thermal energy even more efficient, lessening its already low impact on the environment.
Solar thermal energy is also has very minimal environmental impact. Natural materials are used to collect the energy, such as concrete, stone, and water. By collecting this energy throughout the day and then releasing it during cooler periods, solar thermal energy works with no impact upon the environment.
Since Roman times, and even currently in the Middle East, people have been using thermal energy as a heating source. Solar thermal chimneys use stone or concrete in a hollow shaft. Heated throughout the day, the heat is released as the day gets cooler. The heat comes into the structure during the day from the updraft of the chimney which pulls the hot air through.
Thermal energy can heat entire homes, masses of water, and can also be used for cooking. The energy used for this creates no pollution and also does not deplete fossil fuels.
Careful site selection is truly important when curbing the impact of thermal energy on the environment. With the proper site, the most energy is collected with minimal impression on the environment.
The difference between thermal energy and geothermal energy must be noted. Thermal energy is the heating of molecules, while geothermal energy is derived from the earth’s natural energy. Geothermal energy was created during the earth’s origination, and continues to be generated through the shifting tectonic plates. Solar thermal energy is collected as the heat continuously strikes the earth’s crust.
Geothermal energy is also considered to be a renewable energy. It is used for heating of water, space, and also the creation of electricity. This is mostly done through the harvesting of hot dry rock as well as the use of natural hot water springs.
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