The system of pulling energy from the ground’s heat is garnering recognition due to new technologies, as well as efforts by the power sectors to promote the clean and eco-rich source of energy.
Several world leaders are pushing for more application of renewable energy sources to reduce environmental issues and reliance on petroleum source. However, wind and solar relate an issue due to modern technologies cannot provide enough power for baseload electricity. Geothermal, which is a third source in line, is promising.
Although it is not a new energy source, new types of plant technologies are making this kind of renewable more compelling.
Please keep on reading to know the impact and significance of geothermal trade in the modern-day.
What is Geothermal Energy?
Geothermal energy is heat that generated within the earth, derived from the Greek words geo, which means earth, and thermal, which means heat. The heat produced deep from the earth’s core can be captured and used directly for heat or steam that can be utilized to generate electricity.
This type of energy is very efficient compared to other renewable sources because it can operate 24/7 under any conditions. More than that, its capacity factor is tantamount to nuclear and coal-fired power plant facilities.
Geothermal Industry Nowadays
In the present, there are three kinds of geothermal power plant technologies that are used to transform hydrothermal fluids to electricity, namely:
- Dry Steam Power Plant
Dry steam is the earliest type of geothermal power plant technology that uses steam from geothermal reservoirs as it breaks out from wells.
Dry steam works by piping hot steam from underground pools into the turbines originated from geothermal reservoirs, leading to powering the generators in order to supply electricity. After energizing the turbines, the steam condenses to water and is piped back into the earth through the injection well.
- Flash Steam Power Plant
The most usually used geothermal energy plant at the moment is the flash steam plant. It utilizes hot water at temperatures greater than 360°F but below 400° F.
Flash steam is very distinct from dry steam because it pumps hot water instead of steam to the surface. The word flash is coined from its operation whenever the flash tank is at a much lower temperature, which causes the water to flash into steam quickly. Then the steam generated powers the turbines. And when the steam is cooled – it condenses into water and is pumped back to the injection well.
- Binary Cycle Power Plant
Last but not least type of geothermal power plant is the binary cycle plant.
In this power facility operation, the steam from the geothermal reservoir does not come in contact with the turbines or even generator units. Instead, water is pumped through a heat exchanger where it heats a second type of liquid, like isobutene. This second liquid is heated straight into the steam machine, which powers the turbines that drives a generator.
The water generated within the earth is recycled back to the injection well, whereas the second liquid is recycled by entering the turbine going back into the heat exchanger, where it can be reused.
Even though geothermal energy production is promising, it also showcases many difficulties. They are as follows:
- Capital Costs
Financing a geothermal project could be overwhelming, particularly once the upfront capital costs are laid down. However, if distinguished to natural gas or coal-fired power plant financing, its funding is far less formidable. Valves and piping systems are also considered. Tubomart is a reliable manufacturer of the gas piping system. For further details, you can check out the website https://www.tubomart.com/.
- Finding Suitable Underground Resources
Locating an ideal underground reservoir and getting permission to develop is another challenge. Suitable locations are not that many since they have to be generally away from population centers, and much of the land should be tied up in government ownership.
- Technological Support
Another huge difficulty is the technological support and infrastructure constraint due to the size of most geothermal development enterprises, which are small, financially stressed, and thinly capitalized.
There are some exciting developments that occur in some geothermal fields for the past years. For example, the USA’s department of energy is working with Pacific Northwest Lab on developing better working fluids by adding metal-organic heat carrier nanoparticles. This will make the working fluid more heat efficient, and will not make any issue to machine components that would process the liquid.
Seismic Concerns and Considerations
Even though geothermal energy is becoming an interesting renewable power source due to sustainability and cost-efficiency, there are still some apprehensions raised about the seismic implications of drilling into the earth.
Unfortunately, geothermal energy can trigger earthquakes due to alterations in the earth’s structure resulting from digging. This matter is more prevalent with enhanced geothermal power plants that force water straight into the earth’s crust, opening up fissures to larger resource exploitation. Still, since most of the power plant facilities are far from population centers, the implied man-made earthquakes are minimal.
- Environmental Effects
While geothermal energy does not usually release greenhouse gases, some of these gases are stored within the earth’s core, which is then released to the atmosphere during digging. Still, these gas emissions are uncomparable and far lower compared to those associated with fossil fuels.
Geothermal energy has great potential to provide sufficiently reliable electrical power than other renewable resources which cannot provide baseload power. Through technological development, this type of resource could become a critical factor in the energy mix to support each country’s clean and independent energy goals.