Geothermal energy doesn’t get near the attention that wind and solar do. But to decarbonize our energy systems, we need a team of net zero technologies. And despite geothermal’s low profile, it’s an always-on, zero carbon technology that can complement intermittent renewables like wind and solar. 

So could geothermal become a bigger player on the net zero energy team?

In this episode we go to Kenya, a country that built its geothermal energy from scratch in the 1980s and now gets nearly half of its electricity from geothermal power, with plans to double its geothermal capacity by 2030. Kenyan geoscientists Drs. Nicholas Mariita and Anna Mwangi explain the process of exploring for underground heat, drilling wells, and building geothermal power plants. 

Melissa and show producer Daniel Woldorff discuss geothermal’s strengths and what’s holding it back from wide scale expansion. Jamie Beard, executive director of the geothermal non-profit Project Innerspace, talks about how techniques first introduced by the oil and gas industry could help geothermal grow. 

The Big Switch is produced by Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy in partnership with Post Script Media. This episode was produced by Daniel Woldorff and Alexandria Herr. Theme music and mixing by Sean Marquand. Story editing by Anne Bailey.  Special thanks to Jen Wu, Natalie Volk and Kyu Lee. Our managing producer is Cecily Meza-Martinez. Our executive editor is Stephen Lacey.