- Travel the world’s most breathtaking natural energy sources, with these stunning pictures
- Find out how hard it would be to stay standing up in the windiest place on Earth
- Discover a vast crater in Turkmenistan that has been burning for over 40 years
If you love to travel, this is for you. And, whilst the word ’travel’ may conjure daydreams of sandy beaches, this guide is a little more adventurous. From geothermal ‘steam fields’ to a huge burning crater in the ground, take a look at seven of the planet’s most amazing areas of natural energy.
Arizona’s electrifying town of Tucson, USA
Tucson, Arizona sees over 600,000 lightning strikes a year. Typically, each bolt of lightning contains around five billion joules of energy – which is enough to toast 100,000 slices of bread.
The ‘Gates of Hell’, Turkmenistan
The origins of this vast, burning crater are disputed but many believe it was created by Soviet geologists drilling for oil. After building a rig, the desert floor collapsed underneath it and formed a crater emitting poisonous gas – so the geologists set it alight in the hope it would burn off. That didn’t happen and it’s still burning over 40 years later.
The geyser field of California
California’s naturally occurring ‘steam field’ reservoirs are harnessed by the world’s largest complex of geothermal power plants, the Geysers. They comprise a 45-square mile area with enough renewable energy to power 725,000 homes – or a city the size of San Francisco.
Antarctica – one of the windiest places on Earth
Although it may not have the dramatic wind events like the twisters or hurricanes of the USA, Antarctica holds the record for the fastest daily average wind speed – 108mph. That’s more than enough force to uproot a tree, every day. In Antarctica’s Commonwealth Bay – located directly south of Austrialia – it’s not uncommon for winds to reach 200mph.
Iceland’s crazy geothermal energy
Powerful geysers in Iceland are just one sign of the energy bubbling beneath the country’s surface. While geothermal heat famously warms the island’s many thermal spas, it also powers the heating in 90% of the homes in Iceland.
Some of the biggest waves in the world, Nazare, Portugal
Surfer Carlos Burle rode a wave estimated at 100ft (30m) in Nazare in 2013 – believed to be the biggest ever surfed.
“As the wave broke against the shore, each metre along its crest would have released around 900 megawatts of power - a huge amount of energy,” says Dr. Simon Boxall, Senior Lecturer in Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton.
“Assuming it crested for around 20 seconds, that means the wave actually contained more power than the US nuclear power station Three Mile Island can generate in the same amount of time.”
Pumukkale thermal pools, Turkey
Turkey's Pamukkale thermal pools were used as a natural spa in the Roman era. The pools are filled with calcium-rich water that’s been super-heated deep underground and risen up to the surface, where it cools to a still tropical 37 degrees. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it welcomes two million visitors a year and is Turkey’s single most visited atraction.
If you had the chance to go to one of these places, which would it be? Let us know in the comments below…
Published January 2017. All facts and figures correct at the time of publishing.