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Geothermal Energy

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Photo of a power plant with steam coming out of multiple chimneys.

Map of United States  using color to show the various subterranean temperature ranges.

Top: Geothermal power plant at The Geysers, California.   Above: Estimated subterranean temperatures at a depth of 6 kilometers. Photo and map from the National Atlas Web site


Geothermal energy is derived from heat that originates in the Earth; it is considered to be a renewable energy source. Currently, geothermal energy use falls into three main categories, each of which employs its own specialized technology. Direct use of hot springs and geothermal pools has been practiced for thousands of years, and direct use continues today, with various recreational, agricultural, and industrial applications. In direct use, geothermal water is used in heating spas and pools, in aquaculture and greenhouses, and in various industrial applications. A second category of geothermal energy use, electric power generation, utilizes energy in water and rocks at a greater depth beneath the Earth’s surface. Electric power generation using geothermal resources may take place in several different types of plants, but most rely on the process of piping water or steam into a plant from underground. Geoexchange systems, a third category of geothermal energy use, are becoming increasingly common throughout the United States and Europe. These systems use relatively shallow, but constant, earth temperatures for efficient heating and cooling of buildings.

This guide, a revision and update of TB 83-9, is not intended as a comprehensive bibliography, but highlights selected works and resources about geothermal energy. Many of these titles are available in the reference collection in the Science and Business Reading Room, located on the fifth floor of the Adams Building at the Library of Congress.



Berinstein, Paula. Geothermal energy. In her Alternative energy: facts, statistics, and issues. Westport, CT, Oryx Press, 2001. p. 126-140.
   TJ808.B467 2001 <SciRR>

Brown, Charles E. Geothermal energy. In his World energy resources. Berlin, New York, Springer, c2002. p. 157-165.
   TJ163.2.B76 2002 <SciRR>

Counsil, John. Geothermal energy. In The Wiley encyclopedia of energy and the environment. v. 1. Edited by Attilio Bisio and Sharon Boots. New York, John Wiley & Sons, c1997. p 924-935.
   TJ163.235.W55 1997 <SciRR>

McFarland, Ernest L. Geothermal energy. In Macmillan encyclopedia of energy. v. 2. Edited by John Zumerchik. New York, Macmillan Reference US A, 2001. v. 2, p. 572-579.
   TJ163.28.M33 2001 <SciRR>

Wiser, Wendell H. Geothermal energy. In his Energy resources: occurrence, production, conversion, use. New York, Springer, c2000. p. 249-255.
   TJ163.2.W58 2000 <SciRR>



Subject headings used by the Library of Congress, under which works on geothermal energy can be located in Library catalogs, include the following:

Highly Relevant








Geothermal energy. Edited by Mary H. Dickson and Mario Fanelli. Chichester, Eng., New York, Wiley, c1995. 214 p.
   Includes bibliographies.
   TJ280.7.G416 1995

Geothermal energy: utilization and technology. Edited by Mary H. Dickson and Mario Fanelli. Sterling, VA, Earthscan, c2005. 205 p.
   Includes bibliographies.
   TJ280.7.G443 2005 <SciRR>

Indirect solar, geothermal, and nuclear energy. Edited by T. Nejat Veziroglu. New York, Nova Science Publishers. c1991. 623 p. (Energy and environmental progress 1, v. C)
   Includes bibliographies.
   TJ810.I378 1991



Geothermal energy program. In Renewable power pathways: a review of the U.S. Department of Energy’s renewable energy programs. Committee on Programmatic Review of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Power Technologies, Board on Energy and Environmental Systems, Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems, National Research Council. Washington, National Academy Press, c2000. p. 50-56.
   Includes bibliographies.
   TJ807.9.U6R455 2000

Geothermal heating: a handbook of engineering economics. Edited by R. Harrison, N. D. Mortimer, and O. B. Smarason. Oxford, New York, Pergamon Press, 1990. 556 p.
   Includes bibliographies.
   Supported by the Commission of the European Communities, (EUT 12942 EN), U.N.E.S.C.O., the Leverhulme Trust.
   TJ280.7.G444 1990

Isotopic and chemical techniques in geothermal exploration, development and use: sampling methods, data handling, interpretation. Edited by Stefán Arnórsson. Vienna, International Atomic Energy Agency, 2000. 351 p.    Bibliography: p. 343-351.
   GB1199.5.I86 2000

Lee, Keng Choon. Geothermal power generation. In Encyclopedia of energy .Cutler J. Cleveland, editor in chief. Amsterdam, Boston, Elsevier Academic Press, c2004. v. 2, p. 875-893.
   TJ163.28.E53 2004 <SciRR>



Geothermal energy: the reliable renewable, Geothermal Resources Council 2004 Annual Meeting, August 29-September 1, 2004, Hyatt Grand Champions Resort & Spa, Indian Wells, California, U.S.A. Davis, CA, Geothermal Resources Council, c2004. 692 p. (Geothermal Resource Council. Transactions, v. 28)
   Includes bibliographies.
   GB1199.5.G46 2004

Geothermal biology and geochemistry in Yellowstone National Park: Proceeding of the Thermal Biology Institute workshop, Yellowstone National Park, WY, October 2003. Edited by William P. Inskeep and Timothy R. McDermott. Bozeman, MT, Montana State University Publications, 2005. 352 p.
   Includes bibliographies.
   GB1199.7.Y46G46 2005

Proceedings of the ASME Advanced Energy Systems Division--2005. Presented at 2005 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, November 5-11, 2005, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A. Sponsored by the Advanced Energy Systems Division. New York, ASME, c2005. (AES, v. 45)
   Includes bibliographies.
   TJ163.7.P7595 2005

Proceedings of the World Geothermal Congress, 1995, Florence, Italy, 18-31 May 1995. Edited by Enrico Barbier and others. Auckland, NZ, International Geothermal Association; New York, Elsevier Science, c1995. 5 v.    Includes bibliographies.
   GB1199.5.W67 1995

Renewable energy: renewables, the energy for the 21st century: World Renewable Energy Congress VI, 1-7 July 2000, Brighton, UK. Edited by A. A. M. Sayigh. Amsterdam, New York, Pergamon, 2000. 5 v.
   Includes bibliographies.
   TJ807.2.W67 2000



Most reports listed below are available in the microform collection of the Science Reading Room. These and other reports are sold by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, Virginia 22161. NTIS telephone: (703) 605-6585. NTIS Web site:

Beurskens, Luuk. The cost of geothermal energy in the Western U.S. region: a portfolio-based approach, a mean-variance portfolio optimization of the regions’ generating mix to 2013. Albuquerque, NM, Sandia National Laboratories, Sept. 2005. 28 p.
   SAND 2005-5173
   Available online at:

Erikson, Jody. The National Geothermal Collaborative, EERE-Geothermal Program, final report. Washington, U.S. Dept. of Energy, May 2006. 7 p.
   Available online at:

Geothermal energy: information on the Navy’s geothermal program. Washington, General Accounting Office, June 2004. 46 p. (GAO-04-513)

Hot dry rock technology. Albuquerque, NM, Albuquerque Operations Office, 2005. 28 p.

Renewable resources for America’s future. Washington, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 2005. 30 p.
   Available online at: (PDF - 1.61 MB)
(The freely available Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view and print this resource.)

The Future of geothermal energy: impact of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) on the United States in the 21st century. Cambridge, MA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2007. 358 p.
   Available online at: (14.1MB PDF)
(The freely available Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view and print this resource.)



ASTM Standards
ASTM International, originally known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, is one of the largest voluntary standards development organizations in the world. The Annual Book of ASTM Standards can be consulted in the Science Reference collection of the Library of Congress. ASTM standards can also be purchased through ASTM International at: or through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) at:

ASTM International. Annual book of ASTM standards. West Conshohocken, PA, ASTM International, c2002-
   TA401.A653 <SciRR>
   See especially v. 12.02 for standards related to geothermal energy.

Selected ASTM standards related to geothermal energy include:

ASTM: E-947-83-2002. Standard specification for sampling single-phase geothermal liquid or steam for purposes of chemical analysis. ASTM book of standards, v. 12-02, 2005.

ASTM: E-974-00-2006. Standard guide for specifying thermal performance of geothermal power systems. ASTM book of standards, v. 12-02, 2006.
   TA401.A653 <SciRR>

Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) Standard
Performance rating of direct geoexchange heat pumps: ARI standard 870-2005. Fairfax, VA, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, c2005. 15 p. (ANSI/ARI 2005-870)
   Pamphlet Box <SciRR>
   Available online at: ttp:// (PDF 324KB)
(The freely available Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view and print this resource.)

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
Water-source heat pumps: testing and rating for performance. Geneva, Switzerland, ISO, 1998. 37 p. (ISO 13256)



Dissertations may be identified by using online resources or the following indexes located in the Main Reading Room. Consult any reference librarian about options. Some dissertations may be available in full text through electronic resources on public terminals at the Library of Congress.

Comprehensive Dissertation Index. Supplement (1973- annual)

Digital Dissertations (1861-)
   Electronic resource

Dissertation Abstracts International (1938- monthly)
   Z5053.D57 and Electronic format



Forrest, Andrew Ryan. Optimization of a geothermal heat pump system with aboveground water storage. Ann Arbor, MI, UMI, 2003.
   UMI publication number AAT 1412447 <MicRR>
   Collation of the original: 101 p.
   Dissertation (masters)--North Carolina State University, 2003.

Kanoglu, Mehmet. Design and optimization of geothermal power generation, heating, and cooling. Ann Arbor, MI, UMI, 1999.
   UMI publication number AAT 9934146 <MicRR>
   Collation of the original: 137 p.
   Dissertation (doctoral)--University of Nevada, Reno, 1999.

Mossop, Antony Patrick. Seismicity, subsidence and strain at The Geysers geothermal field. Ann Arbor, MI, UMI, 2001.
   UMI publication number AAT 3002026 <MicRR>
   Collation of the original: 167 p.
   Dissertation (doctoral)--Stanford University, 2001.

Xie, Feng. Application of model predictive control to a geothermally heated bridge deck. Ann Arbor, MI, UMI, 2005.
   UMI publication number AAT 1424883 <MicRR>
   Collation of the original: 138 p.
   Dissertation (masters)--Oklahoma State University, 2005.



ABSTRACTING AND INDEXING SERVICES that index relevant journal articles and other literature on geothermal energy are listed below. Consult reading room reference staff in order to access abstracting and indexing services in electronic format on the public terminals in the reading rooms at the Library of Congress.

Applied Science and Technology Abstracts (ASTA)
   Z7913.I7 <SciRR> and Electronic format

Environmental Issues and Policy Index
   Electronic format

Environmental Sciences and Pollution Management
   Electronic format

   Electronic format

National Technical Information Service (NTIS)
   Electronic format



Journals that often contain articles relevant to geothermal energy include the following:

Energy HD9502.A1E533
Energy Conversion and Management TK2896.E48
Energy Sources TJ153.E4786
Geothermics GB1001.G47
GRC Bulletin GB1199.6.B84
Journal of Energy Resources Technology TJ163.13.T72
Power TJ1.P7
Power Engineering TJ1.P77
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Civil Engineering. TA1.P826
Renewable Energy TJ809.S6



Batchelor, Tony. Geothermal energy: a major renewable energy resource. Civil engineering, v. 158, Nov. 2005: 40-44.

Bertani, Ruggero. World geothermal power generation 2001-2005. GRC bulletin, v. 35, May/June 2006: 89-111.

Box, W. T. A second boom for geothermal? Power engineering, v. 108, June 2004: 97.

Ghose, Mrinal K. Environmentally sustainable supplies of energy with specific reference to geothermal energy. Energy sources, v. 26, May 2004: 531-539.

Hepbasli, A., and O. Akdemir. Energy and exergy analysis of a ground source (geothermal) heat pump system. Energy conversion and management, v. 45, Mar. 2004: 737-753.

Kagel, Alyssa, and Karl Gawell. Promoting geothermal energy: air emissions comparison and externality analysis. Electricity journal, v.18, Aug. 2005: 90-99.

Kujawa, Tomasz, Wladyslaw Nowak, and Aleksander A. Stachel. Utilization of deep geological wells for acquisitions of geothermal energy. Energy, v. 31, Apr. 2006: 650-664.

Lund, John W. Direct application of geothermal energy: 2005 worldwide review. Geothermics, v. 34, Dec. 2005: 691-727.

Ozgener, Onder, and Arif Hepbasli. Experimental performance analysis of a solar assisted ground-source heat pump greenhouse heating system. Energy & buildings, v. 37, Jan. 2005: 101-110.

Sliwa, Tomasz, and Andrzej Gonet. Theoretical model of borehole heat exchanger. Journal of energy resources technology, v. 127, June. 2005: 142-148.

Wicker, Ken. Geothermal: hotter than ever. Power, v. 149, Jan./Feb. 2005: 40-44.



Selected Materials available in the Science Reading Room pamphlet boxes include the following:

Duffield, Wendell A., and John H. Sass. Geothermal energy: clean power from the Earth’s heat. Menlo Park, CA, U.S. Geological Survey, 2003. 36 p. (Circular 1249)
   Bibliography: p. 36. (PDF 398MB)
(The freely available Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view and print this resource.)

Geothermal today: geothermal energy program highlights. U. S. Department of Energy, Golden, CO, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 1999. 37 p.

Hulen, J. B., and P. M. Wright. Geothermal energy. Salt Lake City, The Energy & Geoscience Institute, University of Utah, 2001. 7 p.

Kagel, Alyssa, Diana Bates, and Karl Gawell. A guide to geothermal energy and the environment. Washington, Geothermal Energy Association, April 2005. 75 p.

Renewable resources for America’s future. Washington, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 2005. 30 p. (PDF 1.61MB)
(The freely available Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view and print this resource.)



State Government Resources

California Energy Commission Geothermal Program
The program promotes geothermal energy development. Material available at the Website
includes fact sheets on funded projects, an overview of geothermal energy in California, and a section on geothermal energy for students.

Montana Dept. of Environmental Quality
Includes a description of the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort project.

Utah Geological Survey: Geothermal Resources
Databases, reports and maps, with the focus on geothermal resources and use in Utah.

Federal Government Resources: U. S. Department of Energy

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI)
Energy Citations Database
Geothermal Technologies Subject Portal

Geothermal Energy, Idaho National Laboratory (INL)
INL works to establish geothermal energy as an economically competitive contributor to U.S. energy supply. Reports, maps, software, and contacts can be found at the Website.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program (EERE)
Geothermal Technologies Program
Works in partnership with industry to establish geothermal energy as an economically competitive contributor to the U.S. energy supply. The site links to sections on geothermal basics, history, news and other resources.

How to Buy an Energy-efficient Heat Pump
Information about energy-efficient ground-source heat pumps, from the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP). (PDF 115KB)
(The freely available Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view and print this resource.)

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Geothermal Energy Program

Organizations, Associations and Research Programs

Energy & Geoscience Institute (EGI): Geothermal Research Program
This unit of EGI performs basic and applied research in geothermal exploration, reservoir delineation, drilling, logging and production.

Environmental and Energy Study Institute
Promotes initiatives on sustainable policy; publications are available at the Website.

European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC)
EGEC is an international organization that promotes use, research and development of geothermal energy. This site offers a wide range of information, ranging from introductory to specialized.

Geo-Exchange, Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium (GHPC)
GHPC works to increase awareness and use of geoexchange technology. Information at this site ranges from an introductory video to case studies.

Geo-Heat Center, Oregon Institute of Technology
Provides technological information on geothermal energy for consultants, developers, potential users and the general public. Offers publications for download and purchase.

Geothermal Education Office (GEO)
The GEO site has world maps of geothermal energy production, geothermal facts, classroom materials and other information.

Geothermal Energy Association (GEA)
The GEA Website offers a useful section on geothermal basics along with a directory of existing power plants.

Geothermal Laboratory, Southern Methodist University
The Geothermal Lab site offers a very useful collection of maps related to geothermal energy development and use, as well as many publications and links to related databases.

Geothermal Resources Council (GRC)
GRC is an international educational and professional association which encourages research and information transfer. The site offers a virtual tour of a geothermal plant. Publications are available for purchase, with some articles freely downloadable. The Mexican professional journal Geotermia is also available in electronic format.

International Geothermal Association
Includes general information on geothermal energy, news, interactive maps, images and links to the International Geothermal Conference Papers Database.

International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA)
IGSHPA advances ground source heat pump technology through training and research. The site offers general and technical information, with a directory of federal and state incentives and local industry contacts.

World Renewable Energy Congress/Network (WREC/WREN)
This organization sponsors international congresses on renewable energy, and works to support and enhance the utilization and implementation of renewable energy sources. It also publishes newsletters and the annual journal Renewable Energy.

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