Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Geothermal Energy Facts

Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source that derives from the heat of the earth’s core and has long been used for a variety of purposes. In this article you will find various geothermal energy facts surrounding what this energy source is, how we can use it and the history behind it.

Some interesting facts about geothermal energy

These facts provide a good top-level overview of geothermal energy:

    Geothermal energy has been around since the earth formed and is a renewable energy source.
    The term “Geothermal” derives from the Greek words “geo” (meaning earth” and “therme” (meaning heat).
    Geothermal activity provides the energy behind volcanoes, hot springs and geysers.
    Civilisations have been using hot springs heated by geothermal activity for thousands of years.
    Geothermal energy is greater along the fault lines in the earth’s crust as liquid rock (magma) can be found closer to the earth’s surface, thus providing more geothermal activity.
    The best place for geothermal activity is along the “Ring of Fire”.
    Unlike solar, wind and other renewable energy sources, geothermal energy doesn’t rely on solar activity.

Facts specific to geothermal power

These facts are specific to how we can produce electricity from geothermal energy:

    The process of generating geothermal power has been in existence for over a hundred years and was first tested in Italy by Piero Ginori Conti in 1903.
    Today, geothermal power is only responsible for a small amount of global electricity capacity.
    Modern geothermal power generation is performed at either dry steam, flash steam or binary cycle power stations.
    Geothermal power can be highly price competitive.
    Geothermal power can only be generated cost-effectively in specific areas with enough geothermal activity.
    Geothermal power is considered clean and highly efficient.
    Geothermal power stations do still produce greenhouse gases but on a very small scale when compared with fossil fuel power stations.
    Geothermal power stations are often small and have minimal visual impact on the surrounding environment.
    Geothermal power stations can work both day and night with a high uptime.
    There are over 40 geothermal power plants in the USA alone with many more dotted across the globe.
    In the USA, California has the highest geothermal power capacity and generates just over 80% of the nations geothermal power supply.
    Iceland has the world’s most efficient geothermal power stations and is responsible for a large percentage of global geothermal electricity production.
    Iceland produces around 26% of its electricity supply from geothermal energy.
    New Zealand generates around 13% of its electricity from geothermal activity.
    Other countries that generate significant levels of geothermal power are; Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico and Philippines.

Facts specific to geothermal heating

These facts are specific to how we can use geothermal energy for heating purposes:

    Geothermal energy can also be used to provide heating for homes. This technique makes use of ground source heat instead of the geothermal activity described above.
    Geothermal heat pumps can be used to produce part or all of a buildings hot water supply.
    Geothermal heat pumps work by burying hundreds of meters of water pipes under ground so that the water absorbs the heat from the earth.

Fact Sheet On Geothermal Energy

Fact 1
Geothermal Energy is created and stored inside the Earth.
Fact 2
The Geothermal Energy stored inside our Earth, was produced when our planet was formed millions of years ago and from the decay of minerals.
Fact 3
The core of the Earth is extremely hot. Hotter than you could ever imagine, sometimes reaching more than 4000 degrees Celsius! The heat from the core travels to the surface of the Earth.

Fact 4
The word 'geothermal' comes from Greek words: Geo means Earth and Thermal (Thermos) means heat. You will have heard the word 'thermal' many times as it's often used in reference to heat and insulating heat e.g. thermal gloves or a thermal flask which are devices that store heat similar to the geothermal energy of planet Earth.

 Fact 5
Geothermal Energy from the Earth can be used in many ways in pumping systems and power stations where the energy can be converted to electricity.
Fact 6
One of the heat sources from the Earth is mineral water which can be heated by geothermal energy. For centuries, people have bathed in natural hot water springs.
Fact 7
Hot water can be run from geothermal power plants. When the water runs underground, it can help to melt ice away. This is particularly useful in countries such as Iceland.

 Fact 8
Geothermal Energy has many benefits over many other types of energy and fossil fuels. This is a clean type of energy which doesn't pump harmful chemicals into our atmosphere when it is processed into electricity.

Fact 9
Although geothermal energy is not used as much as it could be, the future is looking brighter as it is being used more and more across the world. The more geothermal energy we can use, the less use of fossil fuels there will be. Fossil fuels can damage our planet as they are rich in carbon and release harmful chemicals when they are burned.

Fact 10
Geothermal Energy is reliable as it is constantly produced. Not all energies are the same, some are inconsistent such as solar power which relies on the sun. During night hours or poor weather conditions, solar energy cannot be received in all places on Earth.

Fact 11
Geothermal is a renewable energy source unlike many other types of energy. Renewable means it can be replenished and it isn't going to run out.
Fact 12
Electricity can be generated from geothermal energy at different types of power plants including binary cycle, dry steam and flash steam power plants.
Fact 13
Flash steam power plants usually function through the use of turbines to generate electricity. This type of power plant uses hot water from the ground which produces steam when it is released from the reservoir to the power plant. Steam is produced due to a decrease in temperature and it is used to power the turbine.

 Fact 14
The oldest type of geothermal power plant runs on dry steam. It uses steam without water droplets (the molecules are in gas state not liquid).
Fact 15
Binary cycle power plants, like flash steam power plants, also uses steam from water to power turbines in order to generate electricity. However, the water is not as hot as the water used in flash steam power plants.