Geothermal energy – A renewable energy source of future- FutureEnTech


Geothermal energy – A renewable energy source of future

Geothermal Energy is the energy stored in the form of heat beneath the surface of the solid earth which is clearly visible in the form of volcanoes, not springs and geysers. Geothermal resources are simply exploitable concentrations of the Earth’s natural heat (thermal energy). The Earth is a bountiful source of thermal energy, continuously producing heat at depth, primary by the decay of uranium, thorium and potassium-that occur in small amounts in all rocks. This heat then rises to and through the Earth’s surface, where it escapes into the atmosphere. As per one estimates, the amount of heat that flows annually from the Earth into the atmosphere is enormous – more than that needed to power all nations of the world, if it could be fully harnessed.

It is available all over the world as depicted in the below image, the major portion of geothermal energy is located in Europe. Sometimes this geothermal heat comes near the surface of Earth in the form of magma. We can use this heat to warm our houses and make electricity. People have used the geothermal energy for heating and bathing for thousands of years. It is observed that the most active geothermal energies are usually found where earthquakes and volcanoes are concentrated. As per one estimate, the temperature increases with increasing depth in the earth’s crust at a typical rate of 20 K/km.

There are various types of geothermal resources available beneath the Earth surface mainly; Hydrothermal (hot water or steam in confined aquifers), Geopressurized (hot, high pressure brines with dissolved methane), Hot dry rock and Magma.

Today, power plants use the steam generated from the geothermal wells to make electricity. The geothermal energy is Renewable in nature due to various reasons like; the hot water we use will be replaced by rain. The heat inside the earth will always be there. More heat is mage every day in the Earth’s core. Hence, we won’t run out of geothermal energy in future. Also, this energy is clean in nature as no fuel is burned, so there is no air pollution in the atmosphere. The steam is turned into water and put back into the earth. The geothermal energy is comparatively cheaper than coal power plants as no fuel is required, perhaps one major cost of drilling the wells to extract the heat source from the earth.

While geothermal resources are not spread uniformly, heat pumps can be used nearly anywhere. This answers the question that using a heat pump (which uses solar energy) as they can be used in places where no geothermal energy is available! It makes way for the alternate renewable source in remote locations in the world.

The geothermal energy has a long history, it was used for bathing in Paleolithic times and ancient Romans used it as a central heating system for bathing and heating homes and floors. Also, America’s first district heating system was put into place in 1892. The first experiment was done to produce geo-thermal power in Italy in 1904 by Prince Ginori Conti.

The natural replenishment of heat from earth processes and modern reservoir management techniques enable the sustainable use of geothermal energy as a low-emission, renewable resource. Also, most hardware used to extract geothermal energy is underground which uses minimum use of surface. The geothermal technologies are environmentally advantages because there is no combustion process emitting carbon dioxide, with the only direct emissions coming from the underground fluids in the reservoir. Technical advancements can reduce the cost of producing geothermal energy and lead to higher energy recovery, longer field and plant lifetimes, and better reliability. The research and development (R&D) in exploration is required for hidden geothermal systems and for Engineered (or Enhanced) Geothermal Systems (EGS).

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