A bit of history: geothermal energy

The use of geothermal waters is a very ancient phenomenon probably dating back to the higher Palaeolithic. Nevertheless, its development from a more specifically health viewpoint originated in Japan and in Italy approximately 2000 years ago. However, although in Japan it was limited at national level, Romans disseminated it from Italy to any region of their Empire (Hungary, Germany, France, Spain, Great Britain, Turkey and Arabia).
However, spas were treated in a scientific way only starting from the Renaissance, when the book De Thermis was published by Andrea Bacci (Venice 1571). Since then, between the 17th and the 18th century, numerous spa centres are built in Europe to operate as therapeutic centres to treat mind and body. Thanks to its 170 centres, the most famous country in Europe as regards spas is Italy, but mention should be made of Hungary (the Budapest centre dates back to the Roman time) and Iceland.
The exploitation of the energy of geothermal sources developed later than spas.
The first industrial plant to produce energy was built in Tuscany in 1827. At the time, Francesco Larderel, the owner of a plant producing boric acid by extracting it from the water flowing underground in the area, had a brilliant idea. Instead of making the boric water evaporate by burning the woods of nearby forests, he decided to exploit the heat contained naturally in the water. The idea was successful and, up to 1875, the chemical industry in Larderello was the most important in the world with reference to the boric products sector. It was in Larderello, in 1904, that the first lights powered by geothermal energy were lit, and in 1913 the first industrial plant for the production of electricity from geothermal sources was inaugurated, with a power of 250 kW. Since then Italy has always been a leader in the production of geothermal electricity, and in time it has accumulated a unique experience on a global scale. In Italy, for example, the hotels in the thermal area around Abano Terme (Colli Eugenei, Veneto region) and almost all the municipalities where the geothermal electricity plants are located, in Tuscany , are heated with a system of teleheating for households.  Research in this field has not ceased. At present there are projects to explore greater depths than the present  geothermal fields, with the scope of finding supercritical fluids.
Starting from the 1920s, the geothermal industry developed also in Japan, Iceland, Hungary and, starting from the 1950s, in the rest of the world.

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