Do they use energy coming from volcanoes? And if no, why?



Do they use energy coming from volcanoes? And if no, why?

In: Earth Science

Yes and no.

In the sense you’re thinking, no, its too unpredictable, dangerous and time consuming to attempted to harness the actual volcano itself.


We do use geothermal sources for energy generation, underground water sources (usually) that are heated from volcanic activity. We harness the steam they create to make energy, a lot like a nuclear reactor without the deadly radiation threat

Kind of. There are geothermal power stations, where they dig down to magma and use the heat from it to generate electricity. (Or, in some cases, they just pipe water down near the magma, the water comes up scalding hot, and they use the water to heat buildings.)

But they normally do this where the magma is deep underground and not going anywhere, so, not in a volcano. A volcano is a spot where the magma pressure is so strong that it made the ground bulge up into a mountain, and that mountain might even erupt. Not an attractive place to build. Also, building on/in a mountain means hauling all your materials up/into a mountain and making your workers commute up/into a mountain, which is not something you’d do if you could help it.

Some volcanoes are dormant, meaning they haven’t done anything scary lately…but that might also mean there isn’t as much magma to work with.

No, they don’t.

The reason is stability.

1. Building a power plant on/into a mountain peak is prohibitively expensive.

2. If the volcano is an active volcano(meaning it may erupt in the near future) then building a permanent structure that will need to be operated and maintain by people is dangerous both for the equipment and the people.

3. If the volcano is inactive then there isn’t *that much* extra thermal energy laying around.

4. Thermal energy plants are more safely and more efficiently set up by simply drilling straight down from a convenient location. You can run a pipe(over simplifying) down into the mantel through a small bore hole and get consistent levels of energy without the risk of eruptions.

It a way yes. [Geothermal_energy]( is using the heat in the ground do produce electricity, heating etc. It is very common on for example Iceland.

So you use the heat that is close to the surface in area with volcanic activity. There is no usage of the energy released when vulcanos have an eruption as it happens quite seldom so quite impractical.

Even if you were around a Vulcano with persistent lava lakes using it would be impractical, the hot ground around it is better as your equipment does not get destroyed. There are only eight volcanos that have had them in the last decades so extremely rare.

We can not build a giant radiator in a volcano as it would likely just melt the pipes or they get destroyed when the land moves. However if we stay just outside the range of the volcano itself and drill down it is fairly hot and not that dangerous. Currently there are 77 such power plants in the US. In some countries this is even the biggest source of electricity. The issue with these geothermal power plants is that they are very limited in where they can be built. So even though they can provide electricity to their nearby areas there is no reason to build more of them in the same place unless you also upgrade the transmission lines out of there or relocate industry to the area. Both of these are being done but it takes time and money, especially as it is cheaper to just build a gas power plant where you need the power.

The thing you need to understand about the energy we create is so much of it is steam based. We don’t just burn coal and electricity is made, we burn it to heat water and make steam. Even nuclear power plants for how complicated they are, boil down to essentially setting a fire under a pot of water and using the steam to turn a fan, thus generating electricity.

That’s all fine in a controlled setting where you can regulate the thing heating the water. But putting a factory over/near one of the most volatile and unpredictable things on earth isn’t feasibly currently. There’s no way to control the output it would be up to the whims of the volcano and if there was an eruption it would destroy everything. And though lava would probably be a great heat source its not something that can be pumped around and transported to use as fuel.