Content derived from
Wikipedia article on Geothermal power
Geothermal power is the use of geothermal heat to generate
electricity. It is often referred to as a form of renewable energy, but
because the heat at any location can eventually be depleted it is by
definition not strictly renewable. Geothermal comes from the Greek words geo,
meaning earth, and therme, meaning heat. Geothermal literally means
"earth heat". Geothermal-generated electricity was first produced
at Larderello, Italy, in 1904.
By the end of 2005 worldwide use of Geothermal Energy for
electricity had reached 9.3 GWs, with an additional 28 GW used directly for
heating. If heat recovered by ground source heat pumps is included, the
non-electric use of geothermal energy is estimated at more than 100 GWt
(gigawatts of thermal power) and is used commercially in over 70 countries.
During 2005 contracts were placed for an additional 0.5 GW of capacity in the United States, while there were also plants under construction in 11 other countries.
Estimates of exploitable worldwide geothermal energy
resources vary considerably. According to a 1999 study, it was thought that
this might amount to between 65 and 138 GW of electrical generation capacity
'using enhanced technology'.
A 2006 report by MIT that took into account the use of
Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) concluded that it would be affordable to
generate 100 GWe (gigawatts of electricity) or more by 2050, just in the
United States, for a maximum investment of 1 billion US dollars in research
and development over 15 years.
The MIT report calculated the world's total EGS resources to be over 13,000 ZJ, of which over 200 ZJ would be extractable, with the potential to increase this to over 2,000 ZJ with technology improvements - sufficient to provide all the world's energy needs for several millennia.
Three types of power plants are used to generate power from geothermal energy: dry steam, flash, and binary. Dry steam plants take steam out of fractures in the ground and use it to directly drive a turbine that spins a generator. Flash plants take hot water, usually at temperatures over 200°C, out of the ground, and allows it to boil as it rises to the surface then separates the steam phase in steam/water separators and then runs the steam through a turbine. In binary plants, the hot water flows through heat exchangers, boiling an organic fluid that spins the turbine. The condensed steam and remaining geothermal fluid from all three types of plants are injected back into the hot rock to pick up more heat. This is why geothermal energy is viewed as sustainable. The heat of the earth is so vast that there is no way to remove more than a small fraction even if most of the world's energy needs came from geothermal sources.
The largest dry steam field in the world is The Geysers, about 90 miles (145 km) north of San Francisco. The Geysers began in 1960 which has 1360 MW of installed capacity and produces about 1000 MW net. Calpine Corporation now owns 19 of the 21 plants in The Geysers and is currently the United States' largest producer of renewable geothermal energy. The other two plants are owned jointly by the Northern California Power Agency and Santa Clara Electric. Since the activities of one geothermal plant affects those nearby, the consolidation plant ownership at The Geysers has been beneficial because the plants operate cooperatively instead of in their own short-term interest. The Geysers is now recharged by injecting treated sewage effluent from the City of Santa Rosa and the Lake County sewage treatment plant. This sewage effluent used to be dumped into rivers and streams and is now piped to the geothermal field where it replenishes the steam produced for power generation.
Another major geothermal area is located in south central
California, on the southeast side of the Salton Sea, near the cities of
Niland and Calipatria, California. As of 2001, there were 15 geothermal
plants producing electricity in the area. CalEnergy owns about half of them
and the rest are owned by various companies. Combined the plants produce
about 570 megawatts.
The Basin and Range geologic province in Nevada,
southeastern Oregon, southwestern Idaho, Arizona and western Utah is now an
area of rapid geothermal development. Several small power plants were built
during the late 1980s during times of high power prices. Rising energy costs
have spurred new development. Plants in Nevada at Steamboat near Reno,
Brady/Desert Peak, Dixie Valley, Soda Lake, Stillwater and Beowawe now
produce about 235 MW. New projects are under development across the state.
Geothermal power is very cost-effective in the Rift area
of Africa. Kenya's KenGen has built two plants, Olkaria I (45 MW) and Olkaria
II (65 MW), with a third private plant Olkaria III (48 MW) run by geothermal
specialist Ormat. Plans are to increase production capacity by another 576 MW
by 2017, covering 25% of Kenya's electricity needs, and correspondingly
reducing dependency on imported oil.
Geothermal power is generated in over 20 countries around the world including Iceland (producing 17% of its electricity from geothermal sources), the United States, Italy, France, New Zealand, Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Russia, the Philippines (production output of 1931MW (2nd to US, 27% of electricity), Indonesia, the People's Republic of China and Japan. Canada's government (which officially notes some 30,000 earth-heat installations for providing space heating to Canadian residential and commercial buildings) reports a test geothermal-electrical site in the Meager Mountain–Pebble Creek area of British Columbia, where a 100 MW facility could be developed.
Douglas Firestone began working with
evaporation/condensation air loop desalination about 1998 and proved that
geothermal waters could be used as process water to produce potable water in
2001. In 2003 Professor Ronald A. Newcomb, now at San Diego State University
Center for Advanced Water Technologies began to work with Firestone to
enhance the process of using geothermal energy for the purpose of
desalination. Geothermal Energy is a primary energy source.
In 2005 some testing was done in the fifth prototype of a device called the “Delta T” a closed air loop, atmospheric pressure, evaporation condensation loop geothermally powered desalination device. The device used filtered sea water from Scripps Institute of Oceanography and reduced the salt concentration from 35,000 ppm to 51 ppm w/w. 
In some locations, the natural supply of water producing steam from the hot underground magma deposits has been exhausted and processed waste water is injected to replenish the supply. Most geothermal fields have more fluid recharge than heat, so re-injection can cool the resource, unless it is carefully managed.
The United States is the country with the greatest geothermal energy production.
Chevron Corporation is the world's largest producer of geothermal energy.
Geothermal energy is a renewable resource along with hydroelectric power, wind power, and Solar energy.
Related topics @ Wikipedia
Look up geothermal in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.Hot-dry-rock geothermal power
Geothermal exchange heat pump
Geothermal power in Iceland
Category:Geothermal power and heating plants
World energy resources and consumption
^ Geothermal Energy Association - Washington, DC (http). Retrieved on 2007-02-07.
^ Aqua Genesis Ltd - Delta T - Testing Information
(accessed 30 March 2006)
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