How to Master Geothermal Energy in 6 Simple Steps

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Geothermal energy

Introduction

Planet Earth it’s hot and full of energy. If you’ve ever observed an erupting volcano, sat in a geothermal hot spring or visited the geysers at Yellowstone National Park, you’ve experienced geothermal energy. The deeper you go into the earth crust, the hotter it gets. The crust of the Earth consists of rocks and water. Underneath the Earth’s crust is a layer of hot molten rock called magma which is even hotter than the sun’s surface. This earth heat also called geothermal energy is a clean renewable source of both power and heat. 

Energy less than 10 kilometres deep holds 50,000 times as much energy as all the world’s oil and gas resources. Globally geothermal currently generates enough electricity to meet the needs of 60 million people. We can harness this vast energy by developing geothermal power projects or geo power. Using today’s technology, we can locate and drill into the geothermal resource at only a few kilometres deep and capture the rising hot water and steam. Releasing a small amount of that heat in the right way can create electricity and the formation of water is reinjected back into the same reservoir underground to be reheated and recycled. 

Binary turbine power plants use hot formation water to vaporize another fluid; the second fluid drives a turbine and generator to produce electricity. This closed-loop system produces no emissions and has one of the smallest environmental footprints of any power supply. Geothermal plants provide power 365 days per year 24 hours per day, and projects are designed to operate a minimum of 20 to 30 years. The clean electricity is delivered by power lines to your community. Borealis geo power has a project goal to develop a 15 to 20-megawatt energy power facility. This is enough to provide clean, renewable electricity for over 15,000 homes. 

The advantages of geothermal do not stop at clean power. The geo power facilities waste heat can be used for a variety of community applications including district heating for greenhouses, hot spring bathing, fish farms and timber drying to name just a few. By harnessing our Earth’s heat resource we can create a clean renewable energy project that can grow your community today and create an ideal model for energy development for the next generation.

How is electrical energy produced from geothermal energy?

By using deep wells that cut through a geothermal reservoir (i.e. In most cases, the rock containing a fluid above 180 degrees centigrade), electricity is produced from a traditional geothermal system. At high pressure and temperature conditions, the reservoir fluid, which is composed of water, gases and dissolved minerals, is detected. Without losing much of its initial pressure and temperature, the fluid ascends to the surface through the well very rapidly. Once at the surface, water and steam are separate due to the high drop of pressure. The steam is then guided to a power plant where pressure and thermal energy are converted into electricity through a turbine. The separated water is used in a binary cycle to remove as much heat as possible before being pumped back into the reservoir, based on its new temperature.

New technologies are currently being developed in order to take advantage of anomalous geothermal gradients in the crust, not related to the magmatic activity. These are known as Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). These systems are different from the conventional geothermal system described above, an EGS does not require a geothermal fluid to transport the heat to the surface. Instead, by splitting the rock at a deep temperature, a reservoir is engineered. Water is then pumped into the new tank, enabling the water to absorb part of the heat that the rock contains. Using a secondary well, the heated water is recovered to generate electricity on the surface.

Advantages and disadvantages of Geothermal Energy

Advantages of Geothermal Energy :

  1. Geothermal energy is environmentally friendly it does not affect the environment
  2. The geothermal energy system is adaptable to different conditions they can be used to heat, cool or power individual homes in industrial processes
  3. Geothermal energy pumps can store heat and that is a significant advantage because we can use it whenever we want to use it
  4. Geothermal energy is endless which means that this energy can be got always
  5. It is low-cost energy hence it is cheaper
  6. Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source
  7. We can produce a tremendous amount of energy and it can be available at any time and we can use it whenever we need it
  8. Benefits local economies
  9. It offers power to village areas an industrial area which is cheaper
  10. Geothermal energy generates continuous reliable baseload power
  11. It conserves fossil fuels and still contributes to energy sources
  12. Geothermal energy provides clean and save energy using little and not harmful to the environment
  13.  In geothermal energy, there is no fuel required
  14. After the initial building cost, there is little to no cost in generating power
  15.  It’s more reliable than other  alternatives 
  16. With the current usage of geothermal energy, 5.8 million tons of carbon dioxide have been saved 
  17.  Can scrape out sulphur that could have been released otherwise, 
  18. In geothermal energy, a facility that has been built in the last  hundred years is still in production 
  19. Geothermal energy does not produce greenhouse gases
  20. Energy does not run out 

Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy :

  1. Geothermal energy plant is extremely expensive to install ground source heat pumps.
  2. The geothermal plant requires the team to work 
  3. It is not a large-scale replacement to classic energy sources 
  4. Some plants use lots of water that is why it is creating water pollution
  5. Geothermal energy sources are close to volcanic activity it’s not dangerous every time but sometimes gases are highly dangerous 
  6. We cannot change the supply 
  7. Geothermal energy plant in which deep drilling is so much difficult 
  8. When the steam is being pumped out of the ground and now it’s in the local environment and it could go right back into the earth and create a pollution
  9. Poisonous gases can come from beneath the earth and be released into the air 
  10. Geothermal energy transportation is hard for the consumer 
  11. The source can be unreliable and run out of the steam perhaps two decades
  12. Hazardous gases and minerals may come up from underground difficult to safely dispose off
  13. It is not universally available 
  14. If done incorrectly geothermal energy can produce pollutants 
  15. Geothermal sites sometimes have no steams  
  16. If it is improper drilling then that can release hazardous minerals and gases
  17. Sometimes it can suddenly stop working 
  18. It is an extremely expensive upfront cost to install ground source heat pumps 
  19. It’s not a large-scale replacement to the classic it can only be used for individual buildings 
  20. Geothermal energy after installing it still requires electricity to work

Types of Geothermal Power Plant:

There are three types of geothermal power plants: 

  1. Dry steam- Dry steam, the oldest geothermal technology, brings steam out of ground fractures and uses it to drive a turbine directly.
  2. Flash– Flash plants pull deep, high-pressure hot water into cooler, low-pressure water. To drive the turbine, the steam that results from this process is used. 
  3. Binary. In binary plants, the hot water is passed by a secondary fluid with a much lower boiling point than water. This allows the secondary fluid, which then drives a turbine, to transform to vapor. In the future, most geothermal power plants will be binary plants.

Key challenges in Future of Geothermal Energy:

  1. Reduce Emission – The geothermal power plant releases methane gas which is one of the most dangerous greenhouse gas. It must be burnt because it can trap more heat in the atmosphere compared to carbon dioxide. If you burn methane then you will get carbon dioxide which is relatively less harmful. On the other hand, Arsenic and Mercury get mixed with surrounding water due to deep drilling. They should be managed properly in a way that it should not pollute air and water to get it mixed with drinking water.
  2. Reduce earthquake risk – Recently in Iceland, during the testing of geothermal energy, it experienced the earthquake on a Richter scale of 3.0. So, the power plant is made to stop working immediately. Research is underway to avoid such earth tremors.
  3. Increase Efficiency: The major factor is the efficiency to which it can able to convert heat into electricity. The plant runs on only 10-15% efficiency. Moreover, since the installation of the power plant is high, it will take more time to even break even after selling electricity produced out of it.

Top 10 countries producing Geothermal Power in 2020

Geothermal power plants are location specific and they are built where the energy is accessible since some areas are not able to exploit this resource.

Here are the top 10 countries generating electricity from geothermal power plants :

Image source- Google | Image by – statista

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