Groundwater and Global Energy Security
How best to deal with these challenges requires reassessment of energy policy, infrastructure, and efficiency. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports production of renewable energy is the fastest-growing sector and will be for many decades to come. Production and utilization of fossil fuels is often limited by their geographical distribution. In contrast, geothermal energy is distributed more widely in volcanic rocks and groundwater. Estimated total amount of heat contained in hot dry rock is ~10 billion quads, 300 times greater than fossil fuels. Some studies have predicted that the growth of geothermal energy could be average 6.5% annually to 2040.
Heating, ventilation and cooling of buildings is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (~33% worldwide). Energy usage in buildings accounts for 34.8% of the total in the US and 27.5% in China. To power a building requires energy be converted into different forms, mechanical energy to electricity to heat, and potential energy to mechanical energy, electricity to heat, nuclear energy to mechanical energy to heat, etc. These conversions result in significant energy losses that ultimately lower overall efficiency. However, the use of groundwater (aquifers) to store and transfer heat would be much more efficient, but require the installation ground-source heating exchange system. To address energy efficiency issues, the role of groundwater in global energy security will be evaluated.