How Does Geothermal Energy Work? How is Geothermal Energy generated?

Geothermal Energy Advantages and Disadvantages | Uses of Geothermal Energy | Is Geothermal Energy Renewable or Non-Unrenewable

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Geothermal Energy Definition

What is Geothermal Energy?

Geothermal energy is the heat that originates in the earth’s subsurface. It is found in the rocks and fluids beneath the earth’s crust, down to the earth’s boiling molten rock, magma.  It is the heat taken from inside the Earth’s crust and stored within the Earth’s surface or fluids.

Geothermal energy comes from hot spots beneath the earth service. These hot spots are called geothermal reservoirs. The reason these reservoirs are so hot is that Earth’s core heats up the molten rock that lies beneath.

The heat travels up to the surface of the Earth, and as it ascends, it transfers its heat to anything that it touches: trees, rocks, buildings.

Geothermal energy is an efficient form of energy because all we have to do is extract this already existing heat and use it. There are different methods of going about this; one method is to place pipes into the ground, which people have done in Iceland.

Or, we can drill a deep hole and put water in the hole, and then extract the hot water from the bottom. This water is at a very high temperature!

Using geothermal energy is a very efficient use of our natural resources. It takes up little space compared to traditional power plants that are often based on fossil fuels like coal or natural gas.

Geothermal energy is one way that humanity can keep itself safe in the years ahead as we shift away from dirty sources of energy like coal and natural gas.

Generating this energy requires new drilling technology, but it is more than worth the effort.

Another great benefit to using geothermal energy is that, unlike nuclear power, geothermal energy does not damage the environment.

Nuclear power plants are very dangerous; they use uranium and fission to produce electricity, and even the smallest mistake can have devastating consequences. This is why using geothermal energy may be our best hope for greening our future.

How Does Geothermal Energy Work? How is Geothermal Energy generated?

Geothermal Energy is formed as a result of radioactive materials fusion in the planet’s core, and some areas within the earth become extremely hot. These are referred to as hot spots. They cause steam to form in water deep within the earth.

As more steam is created, it is squeezed at high pressure and emerges as hot springs, generating geothermal energy.

To harness this geothermal energy, two holes are excavated deep into the earth and cold water is pushed through the first, while the steam escapes via the second long pipe, assisting in the generation of electricity.

The holes drilled for geothermal energy harvesting emit fewer greenhouse emissions than the combustion of fossil fuels. Thus, if implemented on a wider scale and with greater efficiency, it offers hope for mitigating global warming.

Geothermal energy is a relatively uncommon type of energy that does not derive directly or indirectly from solar energy.

Hot springs baths are a very popular and delightful form of entertainment in locations with hot springs. They must, however, be contained in a restricted setting due to the fact that they cannot be accessed without sufficient monitoring.

The process is lengthy and costly, making it impractical in some places. The construction of geothermal energy plants has a significant impact on seismic stability. Even if emissions are reduced, drilling deep trenches create seismic disturbances that have resulted in earthquakes.

Geothermal Energy Advantages and Disadvantages (Pros & Cons of Geothermal Energy)

Geothermal energy Advantages/ Pros of Geothermal Energy

Environmentally friendly

Geothermal energy has a few polluting effects, and the carbon footprint of a geothermal power plant is considered to be negligible.

A typical geothermal power station emits the equivalent of 122 kg CO2 per megawatt-hour (MWh) of energy generated — less than one-eighth of the CO2 emissions produced by conventional coal power plants.

This is one of the primary benefits of geothermal energy, as it generates no pollution and thus contributes to the development of a clean environment.

As a renewable energy source, geothermal energy has contributed to the decrease of global warming and pollution.

Additionally, geothermal systems contribute less pollution to the environment since they release gases from deep under the earth that is not particularly toxic to the environment.

Geothermal energy is a renewable source of energy

Another advantage of geothermal energy is that it can be used in a region’s lifetime. This energy is available as long as the earth exists, which makes it a renewable source of energy.

Create jobs

The use of geothermal power plants creates employment opportunities for the local community. This has been an important role in places that are rich in geothermal resources but lack other forms of electricity like Iceland and the Philippines.

Significant Cost Saving

Geothermal energy often has cheap operating costs because it saves up to 80% on fossil fuel expenditures and generates electricity without using any fuel.

As there is no requirement for fuel, the costs associated with purchasing, transporting, and cleaning up plants are quite cheap.

Geothermal energy plant has a long lifespan

The lifespan of a geothermal power plant is long if it’s properly maintained and operated. This is because the plants are located underground where they’re not subjected to excessive wear and tear that comes from stormy weather or other natural disasters.

Geothermal energy Can be used in areas with the poor electrical grid

In places that don’t have reliable power grids, geothermal energy can be used. It can be used to generate electricity for small homes, as well as for commercial complexes and businesses. Geothermal energy is a cheap source of clean energy, and it won’t interfere with other forms of power.

Geothermal energy Can be used in areas where there is a danger of earthquakes

Though the destructive power of earthquakes is very minor, geothermal energy plants can withstand the small tremors that come from these natural disasters.

This minimizes the effects of the earthquake and allows geothermal plants to continue providing clean electricity.

Geothermal energy minimizes air pollution

People may be affected by a massive amount of air pollution due to its reliance on coal-fired power plants. Geothermal energy is especially beneficial since it uses no fossil fuels and produces no emissions.

Geothermal Systems are Highly Efficient

The energy they produce is then used to run a heat pump which heats up the domestic hot water supply.

Geothermal energy is an efficient source of heat energy because the higher temperature underground prevents the use or heating of fossil fuels and other forms of energy.

Geothermal Systems Need Little or No Maintenance

Geothermal Systems are highly efficient and very durable. They contain multiple pumps that are essential to the working of the system.

These pumps only use a small amount of power to run and don’t require additional maintenance.

 A Stable Energy Resource

Geothermal Systems are a stable, long-lasting source of energy. They also don’t use fossil fuels so they won’t contribute to air or water pollution.

Geothermal Energy is Clean Energy

These systems don’t produce as much pollution as other forms of energy used in heating homes and businesses, such as coal and oil. Geothermal power plants use electricity, which is a clean form of energy that doesn’t produce toxic gases or emissions.

Unlimited Supply

Geothermal energy is a plentiful source of clean energy. These power plants don’t have any kind of limits to their supply, unlike fossil fuels which use up their resources after a couple of decades or centuries of work.

Potential Capacity to Supply Electricity.

Geothermal energy is a potential source of energy. It has the capacity to supply electricity to millions of homes and businesses as long as we take advantage of this natural resource.

Commercial applications

Geothermal power plants are not just used in residential buildings. They also have commercial applications, such as for industries, governmental offices, institutions, and hospitals, etc.

Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy / Cons of Geothermal Energy

Not Widespread Source of Energy

Since this type of energy is not widely used therefore the unavailability of equipment, staff, infrastructure, and training poses a hindrance to the installation of geothermal plants across the globe.

Not enough skilled manpower and availability of suitable build locations pose a serious problem in adopting geothermal energy globally.

Geothermal Energy is Location-Specific, Not Universal:

Geothermal energy is not readily available everywhere in the world. If it were, it would be the world’s most important source of energy.

This problem is because geothermal energy is not produced anywhere other than in volcanic areas.

High Installation Costs

Geothermal energy is often impracticable due to the high installation costs. This is especially true in areas where the geothermal resource is poor.

It is very expensive to install a geothermal energy plant. The equipment and other supplies required for this type of power plant are also pricey.

High Maintenance Costs

Geothermal energy plants are also relatively expensive to maintain because they require regular service and other additional services from experts.

These maintenance services can be costly, especially if they’re done regularly or several times a year.

May Release Harmful Gases

Geothermal energy often releases harmful gases. This may be because of the improper design of the plants, the location, or both. The release of some of these gases into the air can be harmful to people’s health.

Some geothermal power plants may produce certain dangerous substances that are harmful to people and wildlife. This is especially true if they’re located in volcanic areas where there are a lot of dangers associated with volcanoes.

Can Run out of Steam

Geothermal energy can run out of steam if we extract too much of it out of the ground. This is especially true in areas where they’re not much heat coming from the earth because of a depletion of the coal in the earth’s crust. This can also cause serious environmental problems.

Geothermal Not Profitable

Geothermal energy is not very profitable or cost-effective compared to other available energy sources. It is only cost-effective when used in certain parts of the world, where access to it is relatively inexpensive and easy.

High up-front costs for heating and cooling systems

Geothermal energy is used for heating and cooling systems. These systems are expensive, especially in their initial installation. Some geothermal heating and cooling systems may run up to $300,000 or more to install.

Geothermal Systems are Not Easily Accessible

Geothermal energy is not easily accessible anywhere in the world. This is due to the location of geothermal plants and the fact that very few are accessible to the public.

They Can Be Damaged by Earthquakes:

Geothermal energy plants may be damaged during earthquakes, especially if they’re located near the ground where seismic activity is high.

Any damage to these plants may cause widespread damage because they’re needed to provide heating to a large number of people and businesses.

Power Supply Can Become Unstable:

Geothermal energy can be unstable when used for electric power generation. This is especially true when it’s used by the commercial sectors.

Geothermal electric power plants are known to have frequent disturbances and instabilities because it depends on the natural conditions.

Surface Instability

Geothermal systems are unreliable when used for generating power. This is because geothermal energy is a very unstable source of energy.

This is especially true when it’s used in the commercial sector where demand can be so high that it can easily disturb its supply.

Geothermal Energy Not Sustainable:

Geothermal energy does not seem to be sustainable in the long run because there are too many non-renewable resources that we need to extract in order to sustain this energy source.

Distribution costs

Geothermal energy requires a significant investment in power distribution systems. These systems are needed to support the stability of geothermal plants when they are generating power.

This is a problem that’s very costly and could be very expensive because the costs are passed on to all the consumers who use the electricity generated by these plants.

Is Geothermal energy Renewable or Non-Renewable power?

Geothermal energy is the heat from Earth’s core that we can capture and use. This renewable energy source can be used to light homes, buildings, provide electricity, or even power our cars.

Since geothermal energy comes from the earth, it’s renewable. The type used in geothermal power plants is called ‘dry steam’ and only accounts for 5% of the heat from below the surface of Earth.

Geothermal energy is a great source of clean energy, and will never run out! Geothermal energy can be used to heat water in homes that are too old to use an electric furnace.

Geothermal plants make much more efficient use of fuel than traditional fossil fuel-powered plants, so geothermal energy makes it easier on our Earth’s resources and keeps us safer from global warming.

Is Geothermal Energy Renewable or Non-Unrenewable?

Geothermal power is sustainable in that it’s considered a renewable resource and a low-cost energy source. It’s also a non-polluting and reliable energy resource, meaning less chance of power outages.

Geothermal power is a sustainable energy source in that it’s considered a renewable resource and a low-cost energy source.

Geothermal power stations rely on the earth’s heat to produce electricity and it’s considered an environmentally friendly energy source with zero emissions and a reliable source of energy, meaning no chance of power outages.

Geothermal energy is a renewable, clean, and sustainable energy source. It can be used domestically, too.

A number of residential geothermal heat pump systems have been put in use in various U.S. states, and if their efficiency is the same as that of geothermal systems in Europe, they are capable of saving homeowners at least 34% on heating and cooling costs.

For the most part, climate-controlled air conditioning and heating systems employ geothermal energy – the earth’s natural heat, which is derived from the sun, is transferred by heat pumps from the ground to heat or cool homes.

Further geothermal developments are being encouraged by governments and environmentalists.

Why is geothermal energy considered a renewable source of energy?

Because of the cyclical nature of its cultivation and application, geothermal energy is a renewable resource. The earth’s core is constantly generating heat, which results in the formation of these geothermic reservoirs without human intervention.

Additionally, any water withdrawn from these reservoirs is returned or reinjected to reheat the water, and the cycle is repeated.

Where Can Geothermal Energy Be Found

Geothermal reservoirs are naturally occurring hot springs. These reservoirs are located deep underground and are largely invisible from the surface.

Three pathways exist for geothermal energy to reach the earth’s surface:

  1. Volcanic eruptions and fumaroles (holes in the earth where volcanic gases are released)
  2. Hot springs
  3. Geysers

Geothermal Energy Examples

The majority of geothermal energy facilities in the United States are located in western states and Hawaii, where geothermal energy resources are abundant.

Geothermal energy generates the most electricity in California. Northern California’s Geysers dry steam reservoir is the world’s largest known dry steam field and has been producing power since 1960.

Uses of Geothermal Energy

While some applications of geothermal energy make use of the earth’s surface temperatures, others involve drilling kilometers beneath the earth. Geothermal energy systems are classified into three broad categories:

Direct Use and Heating Systems

Direct use and heating systems rely on hot water drawn from springs or reservoirs near the earth’s surface. Bathing, cooking, and heating were all done in hot mineral springs in ancient Roman, Chinese, and Native American cultures.

Many hot springs are still used for bathing today, and many believe the warm, mineral-rich waters have health benefits.

Additionally, geothermal energy is used to heat individual buildings directly or to heat many buildings via district heating systems.

For heating purposes, hot water near the earth’s surface is piped into buildings. The majority of the buildings in Reykjavik, Iceland, are heated using a district heating system.

Geothermal energy is used in industry for a variety of purposes, including food dehydration (drying), gold mining, and milk pasteurization.

Generation Of Electricity from Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy generation requires high-temperature water or steam (300° to 700°F). Geothermal power stations are often placed within a mile or two of geothermal reservoirs.

The United States is the global leader in geothermal energy generating. By 2020, there will be geothermal power plants in seven states producing approximately 17 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), or 0.4 percent of total utility-scale electricity generation in the United States.

Geothermal energy generation on a global scale

In 2018, geothermal energy generated around 83 billion kWh of electricity in 27 nations, including the United States.

Indonesia was the world’s second-largest producer of geothermal electricity behind the United States, producing over 14 billion kWh of electricity, or about 5% of Indonesia’s total electricity generation.

Kenya was the seventh greatest producer of geothermal electricity, with approximately 5 billion kWh, although geothermal energy accounted for 46% of the country’s total annual electricity generation.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Geothermal heat pumps to heat and cool buildings by utilizing the steady temperatures near the earth’s surface.

In the winter, geothermal heat pumps move heat from the ground (or water) to buildings, and in the summer, they reverse the process.

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