Geothermal energy is the heat energy from deep inside the earth, which is brought to the near surface by thermal conduction, and in some areas rises to the surface in natural streams of hot water or steam. This steam can be harnessed to power a turbine and generate electricity.
This long, narrow South American country stretches 4,270 kilometres along the slopes of the Andes Mountains, the world's longest volcanic chain, according to the Andean Geothermal Centre of Excellence at the University of Chile.
Ten percent of all of the world's volcanoes are found in Chile, "which represents significant potential in geological terms", Gonzalo Salgado of the Chilean Geothermal Energy Association (ACHEGEO) toldTierramérica.
Chile forms part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a belt of volcanoes and earthquake epicentres that in the Americas also encompasses Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Central America, Mexico and parts of Argentina, Bolivia, the United States and Canada. This belt contains numerous virgin territories for thermal energy exploration, said Salgado.