Online Course: Geothermal Energy Basics

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

Geothermal Energy Basics enables participants to review, analyze, and evaluate opportunities in the rapidly expanding market for geothermal energy. In addition to gaining a working knowledge of the scientific, technological, and business aspects of geothermal power, participants will also learn techniques for the integration of geothermal energy and existing non-renewable resources.

Course Structure:

This course is a 4-week online course which consists of 4 one-week units that involve readings, multimedia, guiding questions, and assignments for you to do and to email to your instructor. You will receive feedback from your instructor, and upon successful completion of the course, you will receive a certificate. This course is part of a five-course Certificate in Renewable Energy program, so if you complete this course as well as the others, you will receive 5 course certificates and a program certificate. This program is slated to be launched in Fall 2009. Cost and registration information are not yet available, but will be available soon. Are you interested? Please email or Susan Nash at .

Once launched, each course will be available for registration in an ongoing manner. Each 4-week course will begin at the beginning of the month, and you will work directly with the instructor. You will have work due at the end of each week, but you may work at your own pace — any time, any place. It is an asynchronous course, which means that there is not a “live” component – you will communicate via e-mail and discussion boards (where applicable).

The goal of this course and the Renewable Energy program is to equip earth scientists with knowledge to enable them to take the lead in integrated energy projects and programs. An earth scientist’s unique training and understanding of the big picture — the global picture — provides unmatched abilities to design, oversee, and promote integrated energy solutions which require bringing together fossil energy, geothermal, solar, wind, biomass, and others.

Course Outcomes: By the end of the course, participants should be able to:
  • Define key aspects of the growing geothermal industry, including different locations and scales of production.
  • Describe the current use of energy produced using geothermal sources.
  • Identify and list past and current incentives for using and producing energy using geothermal sources.
  • Recognize companies developing and investing in geothermal energy, as well as estimate the business benefits of such investments.
  • Identify the scientific fundamentals of the exploration, development, and distribution of geothermal power.
  • Describe the scientific, technological, and business components of geothermal energy, e.g., locations, exploration, development, production, purchasing, and distribution.
  • Cite current applications of geothermal power in the energy industry.
  • Discuss and analyze case studies involving the integration of geothermal energy and non-renewable resources.
  • Devise methods for the integration of geothermal power and non-renewables in order to anticipate future changes in the energy market.
Required Work:

Four brief research assignments (one per unit) and four brief papers (one per unit). The work is optional, depending on whether or not you wish to have the course potentially apply toward credit.

Core Text Suggestions:
  • Dickson, Mary H. and Mario Fanelli, eds. Geothermal Energy: Utilization and Technology. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd., 2005.
  • DiPippo, Ronald. Geothermal Power Plants, Second Edition: Principles, Applications, Case Studies, and Environmental Impact. St. Louis, Missouri: Butterworth-Heinmann Publishing, 2007.
  • Gupta, Harsh K. and Sukanta Roy. Geothermal Energy: An Alternative Resource for the 21st Century. St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier Science, 2006.

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