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An Introduction to Geothermal Energy

October 16th, 2006 | No Comments | Posted in Energy, Geothermal

You are at: Oilgae Blog (Oilgae – Oil & Biodiesel from Algae Home Page)

See also: Oilgae Blog Article Directory for a complete listing of all Oilgae blog posts – covering news, research and updates on biodiesel from algae & other plant feedstock, ethanol, and other renewable energy such as wind energy, hydrogen, hydro-energy, tidal/wave energy, geothermal, solar energy & nuclear energy

An Introduction To Geothermal Energy

By Brian Yanity and Amanda Kolker of Insurgent49

Excerpts:

1. Geothermal (or “Earth heat”) energy is naturally occurring underground heat found in the form of dry hot rocks or hot water.

2. The geothermal energy of the Earth is diffuse and diverse, but also immense by any measure. The estimated amount of total heat flowing from the Earth’s interior is equivalent to 42 terawatts of power, or more than ten times the amount of electric generation capacity existing in the world today.

3. Geothermal energy is exploited commercially around the world, in places such as Iceland, New Zealand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Central America, Russia, France, and Italy.

4. Geothermal energy potential is high in several areas of Alaska, especially on the Alaska Peninsula and along the Aleutians.

5. Geothermal Indirect Use: Electricity Generation

6. Dry steam, Flash steam, Binary cycle

7. In the U.S., geothermal energy produces utility-scale electricity in California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Hawaii.

8. Overall, geothermal energy provides 5% of California’s electricity, and 10% of the power used in northern half of Nevada.

9. Western North America and Pacific islands such as Hawaii and the Aleutians owe their geothermal resource to the high degree of tectonic activity, and the resulting abundance of mountains, volcanoes, and faults.

10. Closer to Alaska, a single geothermal power plant provides an Anchorage-sized city on Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula with about one-third of its electricity.

11. A prime example of geothermal energy utilization is Iceland, which receives about 15% of it electricity from geothermal. The Philippines generates almost 20% of its power, and New Zealand about 7%, from geothermal.

12. Geothermal energy production is growing rapidly in Latin America and Asia, and East Africa (Kenya).

13. Geothermal Direct Use: Heating and Absorption Refrigeration.

14. Geothermally-heated greenhouses are used to grow a variety of indoor crops in Iceland, including tropical fruit. Such greenhouses also used in Hungary, Italy, Idaho and New Mexico. Other possible uses include warm-water aquaculture and process heating for seafood processing.

15. Challenges and Economics – Many potential geothermal energy sites are located in remote areas, long electric transmission lines would have to be built in order to serve populated areas. Construction of geothermal power plants is capital intensive.

16. Sustainability of Geothermal Energy – Geothermal energy resources (i.e. “geothermal reservoirs”) require three basic components: heat, groundwater, and permeable rocks (which permit deep circulation of groundwater). Geothermal reservoirs are considered renewable; Hence, geothermal reservoirs are sustainable over the long-term.Carefully managed geothermal systems are expected to last centuries.

17. Many of the world’s hot water reservoirs, particularly those of higher temperature and salinity, pose the potential for contamination of nearby soils if the extracted water is not re-injected into the ground. There is also the risk of aquifer disruption when large amounts of water are extracted from the ground. Another risk for geothermal power facilities is the corrosion of metal pipes by the minerals contained geothermal steams and gases.

18. Prospecting for geothermal energy is typically a two-phase process. The first phase involves geologic mapping (to characterize tectonic setting, permeability of reservoir, and surface conditions), geophysical studies such as seismic, gravity, and electro-magnetic surveys (to image the subsurface), geochemical investigations (to characterize the nature of the geothermal fluid), and shallow drilling for thermal gradient information.

19. Compared to the rest of the world’s geothermal resources, Alaska’s geothermal resources are poorly understood.

Geothermal Energy Links:

www.geothermal.org
www.geo-energy.org
geothermal.inel.gov
iga.igg.cnr.it/index.php
egi-geothermal.org
www.unr.edu/geothermal
geoheat.oit.edu
www.nzgeothermal.org.nz
www.smu.edu/geothermal/heatflow/heatflow.htm

Full article can be read here

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