Geothermal Energy – innovation the world has been waiting for!

By the middle of the century, the demand for energy will be twice as it is now, we immediately need a source of energy that can fulfill this demand, besides being sustainable.

Could you have imagined that there is a source of renewable energy which is 1000s times larger than oil and gas fields combined together?

Yes, there is a source that is not much explored and it is found under our feet – geothermal energy. 

What is Geothermal Energy?

Geothermal energy is the thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. The geothermal energy of the Earth’s crust originates from the original formation of the planet and from radioactive decay of materials (in currently uncertain but possibly roughly equal proportions). 

Since the old stone age, it has been used in the form of water from hot springs for bathing.

Where it is used?

  • Direct use:

It makes use of low-temperature geothermal resources ranging between 50 and 150 °C. Such low-temperature geothermal water and steam have been used to warm single buildings, as well as whole districts where numerous buildings are heated from a central supply source. 

Geothermal Energy - Hot springs
Bagno Vignoni: hot springs Hot springs in Bagno Vignoni, Italy.
Image source: https://cdn.britannica.com/89/145389-050-F48052BE/Hot-springs-Bagno-Vignoni-Italy.jpg
  • Geothermal Heat Pumps:

They take advantage of the relatively stable moderate temperature conditions that occur within the first 300 meters. In the part of the lithosphere rocks and groundwater occur at temperatures between 5 and 30 °C. 

This heat can be used to help warm buildings during the colder months of the year when the air temperature falls below that of the ground. Similarly, during the warmer months of the year, warm air can be drawn from a building and circulated underground, where it loses much of its heat and is returned.

They are very efficient, using 25–50 percent less electricity than comparable conventional heating and cooling systems, and they produce less pollution.

Geothermal heat pump
Residential heat pump operation for summer cooling and winter heating.
Image source: https://cdn.britannica.com/43/152543-050-ED2B953A/heat-pump-operation-summer-cooling-winter-heating.jpg
  • Electric power generation

There are two types of power plants based on collection of rising steam from the ground:

Dry steam power plant: 

In this, heated vapour is funnelled directly into the turbine that drives the electric generator.

Geothermal energy
Image Source: https://cdn.britannica.com/41/152541-050-26D5DBED/power-generation.jpg

Flash steam power plants:

Pressurized high-temperature water is drawn from beneath the surface into containers at the surface, called flash tanks, where the sudden decrease in pressure causes the liquid water to “flash,” or vaporize, into steam.

flash steam power plant
Image Source: https://cdn.britannica.com/82/152582-050-D3A5CF6B/Flash-power-generation.jpg

Pros and Cons of geothermal energy

Pros: 

  • Carbon-free, renewable, sustainable form of energy
  • continuous, uninterrupted supply unlike solar and wind energy
  • Only produces one-sixth of the CO2 produced by conventional plants 

Cons:

  • Despite low CO2 production, it produces significant sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide
  • High initial cost to build
  • Location-specific source of energy

Scope of Geothermal Energy:

Currently, less than 1% of world production comes from geothermal sources. But there are advancements taking place to generate geothermal energy in efficient and profitable ways. One such advancement is Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS), pumping high-pressure water underground. 

Imagine taking an elevator down 900 stories—over two and a half miles into the Earth, where temperatures are upwards of 350°F—hot enough to bake a cake. Deep below our feet, hot rocks in the Earth’s crust compress and twist over thousands of years, causing fractures to form.

Now imagine pumping cold water down that hole. In the same way an ice cube cracks when you drop it into hot tea, cold water cracks the rock at depth along weaker, pre-existing fractures, rushing through these small fractures and picking up heat like a sponge soaks up fluid.

The fluid is then pumped to the surface, which spins a turbine, generating electricity.

EGS can supply baseload energy with limited to no intermittency, eliminating the need for energy storage technologies.

installed capacity worldwide
Image Source: https://www.irena.org/geothermal

My Opinion: 

As mentioned above, less than 1% of world energy comes from geothermal sources. I believe geothermal energy has the potential to provide us with the increasing energy demand in the coming future. We need innovative ways such as EGS to extract the energy in a cost-effective manner. The geothermal energy will be going to a very important weapon in the war against climate change.

Baseload Capital is investing a lot in geothermal energy. I highly recommend visiting their site once.
Link of their site: https://www.baseloadcap.com

References:

  1. https://www.power-technology.com/features/what-is-geothermal-energy/
  2. https://www.britannica.com/science/geothermal-energy/History
  3. https://www.energy.gov/eere/geothermal/how-enhanced-geothermal-system-works
  4. https://www.power-technology.com/features/what-is-geothermal-energy/
  5. https://www.energy.gov/eere/articles/geothermal-energy-glance-back-and-leap-forward
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_energy

Yash

Yash loves to read and write on issues such as climate change, renewable energy, SDGs, and other related issues. He wants to make people aware of climate change and encourage them to follow a sustainable lifestyle.

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