By Emily Gertz
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The planet's internal heat is a powerful, constant force that's available anywhere on Earth -- and a potential energy source that we've barely begun to harness.
In 2010, renewables supplied a mere eight percent of total energy consumption in the United States, led by biomass and hydroelectric power. Geothermal power made up only three percent of that mix.
What projects we do have on line are limited to a handful of spots in the Western states, and they've come about mostly as a result of serendipity.
"Most of the geothermal that's operating today is what we call the low-hanging fruit," Steven Chalk, the U.S. Department of Energy's deputy assistant secretary for renewable energy said in an interview with TPM. "It's where you see the steam coming out of the ground, or you've got the geology where it's in the ring of fire, or near volcanoes." These conventional geothermal installations pump heated underground water up to power plants on the surface.