Geothermal energy explained.
It is likely best to explain geothermal energy with a well known household technology. Everyone knows that simple technology of kettle whistle when the heat is steaming the water. That is a pressure blow telling you that the heat in the kettle is producing so much energy in the water that it’s bouncing out of the kettle and blowing the whistle on the way out because of pressure. The same thing is happening in the ground. Heating of the ground water due to volcanic activity is so great that when someone drills in to it the pressure wants is to escape out. The difference is that when harvesting that energy they use turbines in the shaft that use the escaping steam to spin and produce electricity. Not all geothermal energy is used to make electricity. Some of it is actually used directly to heat houses. The power plant then uses nearby clean water source to heats up clean water with the underground steam. Another technology is called Heat pump systems. They are used to climate control houses.
Advantages and disadvantages.
Geothermal energy is one of the resources that are likely to be exploited much more in the future. It has relatively low environmental impact compared to many energy sources. I will start by listing up geothermal energy advantages and disadvantages.
- Geothermal energy cost is extremely low compared to many other energy sources.
- It has low pollution compared to fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
- Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source.
- Almost no environmental impact when using geothermal heat from nuclear decay.
- Geothermal heat pump systems can reduce your energy use storing heat from the summer/sun and makes use of it in the night and winter. Low maintenance systems.
- The most important disadvantage is absolutely the geological problem. The heat source is mostly close to volcanic activity of some sort.
- Chemicals are byproducts of the production electricity with hot ground water. Some geothermal plants use a lot of water and it needs to go somewhere its after use. Some of the poluting chemicals in that water and steam are sulfur, mercury, hydrogen sulfide, arsenic, ammonia.
- Earth is a changing creature. A drilled hole in the ground could supply thousands of homes heat and one earthquake could change that in a second. It can also change gradually over time.
- Location, location, location. That is certainly true of geothermal energy. It cannot be transported over vast distances. If used to heat up houses or for hot tap water it is only the quality of the pipe that delivers the water that determines how far it can go and if it will be of any use when it arrives. If the heat is used for electrical production it helps to have plants close so the energy loss is not too great.
- Corrosion is a big problem. Composition of the chemicals can vary but it is always a problem. It is among other the reason they need to heat up clean water to use and do not use it directly in to heating of houses. In cases it has been used directly it causes pipes to corrode.
- In nuclear heating rock the rock cools down over few decades and hundreds of years are needed to get initial heating back. Power stations of that sort are therefore not considered as profitable.
- Geothermal Heat pump systems do have high installation cost.
- Some areas run out of water or run low on ground water during seasonal dry spells. Less water means less heat and less energy to produce.
- Some drilling sites are too hot to handle. Yea. Drillers have actually tried and tried some holes and they just can’t get the needed equipment in because the holes shoot it out like guns. With workers running to stay alive while steel rains down on them.
Advantages and disadvantages of geothermal energy are many. Some are more important than others.
- The geothermal energy advantages do greatly outweigh the disadvantages.
- Countries that have it in abundance do have very inexpensive heating of houses and tap water.
- Power stations should not be in urban areas because of possible pollution.
- Heavy industry like aluminum production or other similar industries are often close to sources of geothermal energy making areas that have it more prosperous. They also have a negative impact through pollution of the same factories.
- The same places that have the heat in abundance are almost always very beautiful and the plants that are put in the same spots aren’t. The result is often environmentally negative.
What is geothermal energy used for?
- Heating of homes.
- Electrical production.
- Heavy industry like aluminum production.
- Light industry like green houses and other agricultural uses.
- Bio-fuel production, ethanol production.
- Hot baths and hot swimming pools and other recreational uses. Yea. Some are luckier than others in this world
What is a geothermal hotspot and how are they related to geothermal energy?
- The earth’s crust is thick and hard mostly. In some places there is a leak of molten lava to the surface of the planet. This is called a hotspot or mantel plume.
- Hotspots are rather rare. Only a fraction of earth’s crust has hotspots that are easily drilled. Country’s like Iceland and Hawaii are examples. Let’s not forget Yellowstone.
- The hotspots experience a lot of volcanic activity as a result of this column of molten rock rising up under the crust. The hotspots are of cause dream spots for the renewable energy world as they give them easy access to a lot of cheap energy.
I hope this helps you understand the basics in geothermal energy. Geothermal energy is one of the cleanest energy sources out there and should be able to help us becoming greener. Do try to watch the video as it gives you a very good understanding of this subject. Hope you enjoyed this read and take care.