Geothermal Energy

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by chronohy0456b93face706f
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Energy & Environment

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Geothermal Energy

What it is and how it works

Where its found

: Geothermal energy is generated in the earth's core. Temperatures hotter than the sun's surface are continuously produced inside the earth caused by the slow decay of radioactive particles, a process that happens in all rocks. The earth has a number of different layers: The earth's crust is broken into pieces called plates. Magma comes close to the earth's surface near the edges of these plates. This is where volcanoes occur. The lava that erupts from volcanoes is partly magma. The rocks and water absorb the heat from this magma deep underground. The rocks and water found deeper underground have higher temperatures. People can also make use of the stable temperatures near the surface of the earth to heat and cool buildings. Many geothermal features are national treasures .Geothermal features in national parks like geysers and fumaroles in Yellowstone National Park are protected by law. Geothermal reservoirs are naturally occurring areas of hydrothermal resources. They are deep underground and are largely undetectable above ground. Geothermal energy finds its way to the earth's surface in three ways:- Volcanoes and fumaroles (holes where volcanic gases are released)-Hot springs-Geysers

The word geothermal comes from the Greek words geo (earth) and therme (heat). Geothermal energy is heat taken from below the earth’s surface which can be harnessed to generate clean, renewable energy. This is how it works: Wells similar to those used to produce crude oil and natural gas are drilled to recover the water. Water is pumped down an "injection well", filters through the cracks in the rocks in the hot region, and comes back up the "recovery well" under pressure. It "flashes" into steam when it reaches the surface. The steam may be used to drive a turbogenerator, or passed through a heat exchanger to heat water to warm houses. The steam must be purified before it is used to drive a turbine, or the turbine blades will get "furred up" like your kettle and be ruined once captured, steam and hot water are separated. The steam is cleaned and sent to the power plant. The separated water is returned to the reservoir, where it helps to regenerate the steam source. Geothermal energy is a reliable source of power that can reduce the need for imported fuels for power generation. It's also renewable because it is based on a practically limitless resource—natural heat within the earth. Geothermal energy is an important resource in volcanically active places such as Iceland and New Zealand.How useful it is depends on how hot the water gets. This depends on how hot the rocks were to start with, and how much water we pump down to them.

US geothermal consumptionThe United States leads the world in the amount of electricity generated with geothermal energy. In 2014, U.S. geothermal power plants produced about 17 billion kilowatthours (kWh), or 0.4% of total U.S. electricity generation. In 2014, seven states had geothermal power plants.Share of U.S. geothermal electricity produced by each state, 2014:California76%Nevada18%Utah3%Hawaii2%Oregon1%Idaho0.3%New Mexico0.1%

Byproducts of Geothermal energyThere are several drawbacks to geothermal energy. The fluids drawn from the earth carry greenhouse gases such as CO2, methane, and ammonia that get released into the atmosphere. Additionally, super-heated water that’s extracted can contain small amounts of harmful metals such as mercury and arsenic. Lastly, construction of geothermal plants can result in land instability. In several separate incidences, increased levels of seismic activity have taken place following the construction and extraction of geothermal resources.Products of Geothermal energyDirect heat use is one of the oldest, most versatile and also the most common form of geothermal energy . Bathing, space and district heating, agricultural applications, aquaculture and some industrial uses are the best known forms of utilization, but heat pumps are the most widespread . There are many other types of utilization, on a much smaller scale, some of which are unusual.

US Geothermal Consumption

Products and Byproducts

1.Availability – The availability of geothermal energy that is capable of feeding geothermal power stations is limited. This intense energy source is often only available in countries where geothermal activity is at its peak, mainly tectonic/volcanic regions such as Iceland.2.Funding – A significant investment is often required prior to building a geothermal power station. Geological surveys have to be undertaken to ensure the location is suitable for geothermal electricity production before any potential installation work can go ahead. It’s often costly to transport any required materials to remote locations where there is sufficient geothermal activity.3.Pollution – Geothermal power stations have the potential to release harmful gases into the air. Toxic gases exist deep beneath the ground in various regions and can sometimes be released via the infrastructure used by geothermal power stations. Most modern geothermal power plants have systems and procedures in places to deal with these harmful gases.4.Localised Supply – As geothermal is trapped beneath our feet, we cannot extract, store and transport this energy source to other countries as we do with fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas. Geothermal energy has to be used at source to generate electricity, thus providing a supply of electricity for the electrical grid system of only the source country.5.The Steam Can Stop – Geothermal power stations have the potential to cool the rocks beneath them buried deep under the ground. If the rocks are cooled via too much water flowing into the well, they will no longer be able to produce the steam required to turn a generator, thus rendering a site useless and resulting in significant losses for any company making use of geothermal energy at that location



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