In the ongoing quest to combat climate change, new forms of carbon-neutral, environmentally friendly energy sources are being prioritized by the nations across the world. Research on both deep and shallow geothermal energy that will allow for a faster, wider and more efficient roll-out of this potentially game-changing alternative energy source are gaining pace. Here’s a look at the Eco-friendly energy source…
Geothermal energy is the heat that comes from the sub-surface of the earth. It is contained in the rocks and fluids beneath the earth’s crust and can be found as far down to the earth’s hot molten rock, magma. To produce power from geothermal energy, wells are dug a mile deep into underground reservoirs to access the steam and hot water there, which can then be used to drive turbines connected to electricity generators.
How Is It Used?
These underground reservoirs of steam and hot water can be tapped to generate electricity or to heat and cool buildings directly. A geothermal heat pump system can take advantage of the constant temperature of the upper ten feet (three meters) of the Earth’s surface to heat a home in the winter, while extracting heat from the building and transferring it back to the relatively cooler ground in the summer.
Production of Geothermal Energy
To produce geothermal-generated electricity, wells, sometimes a 1.6 kilometres deep or more, are drilled into underground reservoirs to tap steam and very hot water that drive turbines linked to electricity generators. The first geothermally generated electricity was produced in Larderello, Italy, in 1904.
There are three types of geothermal power plants: dry steam, flash, and binary. Dry steam, the oldest geothermal technology, takes steam out of fractures in the ground and uses it to directly drive a turbine. Flash plants pull deep, high-pressure hot water into cooler, low-pressure water. The steam that results from this process is used to drive the turbine. Most geothermal power plants in the future will be binary plants.
Geothermal energy is generated in over 20 countries. The United States is the world’s largest producer, and the largest geothermal development in the world is The Geysers north of San Francisco in California. In Iceland, many of the buildings and even swimming pools are heated with geothermal hot water. Iceland has at least 25 active volcanoes and many hot springs and geysers.
Geothermal energy locations in India
In India, exploration and study of geothermal fields started in 1970. The GSI (Geological Survey of India) has identified 350 geothermal energy locations in the country. The most promising of these is in Puga valley of Ladakh. The estimated potential for geothermal energy in India is about 10000 MW.
There are seven geothermal provinces in India : the Himalayas, Sohana, West coast, Cambay, Son-Narmada-Tapi (SONATA), Godavari, and Mahanadi.
Advantages and disadvantages
There are many advantages of geothermal energy. It can be extracted without burning a fossil fuel such as coal, gas, or oil. Geothermal fields produce only about one-sixth of the carbon dioxide that a relatively clean natural-gas-fueled power plant produces.
Binary plants release essentially no emissions. Unlike solar and wind energy, geothermal energy is always available, 365 days a year and is also relatively inexpensive,But it has some environmental problems. The main concern is the release of hydrogen sulfide, a gas that smells like rotten egg at low concentrations.
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