New opportunities in geothermal energy for developing countries
In some developing economies, as much as half of all food produced is lost post-harvest – that's due in part to a lack of affordable energy for food processing, according to “Uses of Geothermal Energy in Food and Agriculture”.
This makes the use of heat energy for drying foods, pasteurizing milk and sterilizing produce especially interesting for developing countries, where increased food processing can give a boost to food security.
Food drying can prolong the shelf life of nutritious foods like fish and vegetables and make them available year-round, including in times of drought.
Geothermal energy is also a prime source for heating greenhouses, soils, and water for fish farming, the report says.
Developing countries that have much to gain from harnessing heat energy for agriculture include those in the so-called Ring of Fire along the Pacific Plate, such as Mexico, Indonesia, the Philippines and various countries along the Pacific Coast of South America. So do Ethiopia and Kenya in Africa’s Rift Valley, and transitioning economies in Eastern Europe, including Romania and Macedonia.
Agriculture both consumes energy and emits greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
Research suggests that using geothermal heating for greenhouses decreases fungus infections and cuts fuel costs by up to 80 percent, providing significant savings to operating budgets.
And while oil and gas can be costly and scarcely available in parts of the world, the estimated 42 million megawatts (MW) of power that radiates from the earth’s 5000-degrees-celsius core won’t run out for billions of years. ■