It’s known by man that huge amount of heat energy is stored within the earth, but deep in certain rocks, e.g. granite, in volcanic and earthquake regions.
Geothermal energy can simply be described as the heat energy found within the earth. Geothermal energy is a renewable source of energy and can be found almost anywhere. But geothermal energy is more easily harness in regions where there is a lot of hot spots (more heat energy is present). Geothermal energy if harnessed can lead to cheaper energy cost and reduces our dependence on fossil fuels. This will help to reduce global warming and public health issues that result from the use of fossil fuels (less harmful gases are release in the atmosphere).
At a depth of 2 km within the earth the temperature is typically 80 ºC, and at a depth of 6 km about 200 ºC. The temperatures might be higher in some locations.
How does Geothermal Energy Works?
Our plant is made up of thick outer shell called crust. The crust is made up of many different rock layers and plates, whose components are continually moving and changing. Under our plant crust is a layer of hot and molten rock called magma. As a result of this heat is continually been produced there, mostly from the decay of naturally radioactive materials such potassium and uranium.
The amount of energy in the earth surface is more than 50,000 times that of all the oil and natural gas in the world. Because of this huge amount of energy inside the earth the rocks start developing cracks, in order to release some of the energy. The energy is release in the form of water and/or heat on to the earth surface.
To harness geothermal energy two holes are drilled; cold water is pump through one hole and come up through the next hole as hot water. The water becomes hot because it absorbs heat from the earth. Please note that to get the heat energy water is pumped down an “injection well”, which then pass the water through the cracks in the earth and absorb heat energy (hot water is obtain). The water then return back through what is called the “recovery well” under pressure in the form of steam. The steam is collected and use to drive electric generators, to produce electricity. However to setup on system to harness geothermal energy can prove to be costly and difficult.
Factor that Determine How useful Geothermal Energy Can Be
Some of the factors that determine how useful geothermal can be includes:
- Location: How far is the geothermal power plant is from natural hot spots. The Pacific Rim also known as the Ring of Fire for its many young volcanoes is a prefect location for a geothermal power plant, if feasible.
- How hot the water gets in a particular location: Extremely hot water sources are needed to properly run a geothermal power plant.
- The rocks cool down naturally in a particular location: If the rocks cool down naturally in a particular location it would affect the harnessing of geothermal energy, because of inadequate heat energy to produce hot water.
Geothermal Power Station can be found in Italy, New Zealand, Iceland, Japan, the Philippines and the United States. This is because hundred of hot spot can be found in those countries. N.B. Geothermal Energy can be use to power the same devices and systems as fossil fuels.