Hot and Cold: What’s Available in the Geothermal Energy Green Jobs Market


Another example of old-world ideas turning into new world energy technologies, geothermal energy is a diverse and highly stable and efficient way to provide heating, cooling, and electricity to projects large and small. There are numerous applications for geothermal concepts, and equally as numerous green jobs in the field.  Here are some examples of how geothermal ideas are used:

  • Steam can be used directly for district heating and powering turbines
  • Ground source heat pumps can provide heating and cooling as well as hot water heating
  • Hot springs are used in the spa industry (in a field called balneology)
  • Geothermal systems can help heat greenhouses and improve agricultural and aquaculture outputs

Current Developments in the Geothermal Energy Industry

There’s lots going on in the world of geothermal energy, though this is perhaps not as large a market as solar energy jobs, wind energy jobs, or hydro energy jobs. That said, analysts are predicting that some job-intensive projects (up to 700 MW) will be coming online in the coming year, so the potential for growth in this field is very good.

The Ring of Fire where geothermal activity clusters

Geothermal projects tend to cluster around areas that correspond to what is known as the Ring of Fire, a zone of volcanic arcs and oceanic trenches encircling the Pacific Basin where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are frequently experienced. It is in these regions that you will find the greatest number of geothermal jobs.

Nevertheless, geothermal is often a viable source of heating, cooling or energy in most regions of the world in one way or another. In fact, some scientists estimate that we could derive enough electricity from geothermal sources (hydrothermal in particular) to power 3.5 million homes in the US with 2,700 MW of energy (many put the number much higher).

Take a look at which states have the greatest geothermal capacity according to the US Energy Efficiency Administration (2008 figures in thousand kilowatt hours):

  • California – 13,022,405
  • Nevada – 1,616,677
  • Utah – 279.121
  • Hawai’I – 167.591
  • Idaho – 107,079
  • Texas – 16,360

The Types of Green Jobs Available in the Geothermal Energy Industry

There’s renewed interest in geothermal as a sustainable source of energy for residential heating, cooling, and electricity production, and as such, the job industry is growing. To match the demand, there is also a growing list of institutions offering educational programs for those interested in entering the geothermal field.

Geothermal power plant in Iceland Via Flickr: WorldIslandInfo.com

This list will give you an idea of the types of jobs available in the geothermal job market:

  • Trades: Including welders, machinists, electricians, carpenters, pipe fitters, mechanics, sheet metal workers, installation technicians, and so on.
  • HVAC technicians: Specialists who create geothermal heating and cooling systems large and small. These individuals are also hired as efficiency operators.
  • Accountants: People skilled in running the finances for a given commercial project or geothermal company.
  • Regulatory and environmental consultants: Those responsible for ensuring geothermal projects are installed and operated properly and safely.
  • IT specialists: People who build and manage software to monitor and manage energy produced by geothermal systems.
  • Researchers: Scientists who can design and implement geothermal projects. Scientists in a variety of fields are hired: hydrogeologists, balneologists, geologists, and so on.
  • Engineers: At all levels, these individuals help design, build, and implement geothermal power systems

Main image Via Flickr: Dario Dado

This post was written by:

Maryruth Belsey Priebe

Maryruth has been seeking the keys to environmental justice - both at home and at work - for over a decade. Growing up adjacent to wild spaces, Maryruth developed a healthy respect (and whimsical appreciation) for things non-human, but her practical mind constantly draws her down to earth to ponder tangible solutions to complex eco-problems.

With interests that range from green living to green business, sustainable building designs to organic gardening practices, ecosystem restoration to environmental health, Maryruth has been exploring and writing about earth-matters for most of her life. Of special interest is the subject of ecopsychology and the role the natural world plays in the long-term health and well-being of humanity. You can learn more about Maryruth's work at www.JadeCreative.ca.


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