Geothermal energy offers a renewable and affordable alternative to the traditional source of energy production.
FREMONT, CA: Geothermal energy is a promising discovery that can address energy problems across the globe. Harnessing the energy of the earth’s temperatures to heat or cool homes and industries is the essence of geothermal power. When it comes to electricity generation, geothermal power plants use steam to produce electricity. The stream is harnessed from reservoirs of hot water present a few miles below the earth’s surface. Turbines are powered through steam resulting in the production of electricity. Here are the primary types of geothermal power plants that are used for the generation of electricity.
Dry steam plants are the most popular type of geothermal power plants accounting to over half of the installed geothermal plants. They operate by piping hot steam from underground reserves directly into turbines, which power the generators resulting in the production of electricity. Once the turbines are powered, the steam condenses into water and is transferred back into the earth through an injection well.
Flash steam power plants use geothermal reservoirs of water with temperatures over 360°F (182°C). The hot water flows up through wells under its own pressure. Once the water flows up, the pressure decreases, resulting in some of the hot water boiling into steam. The steam is later separated from the water and is used to power a generator or a turbine. The leftover water is injected back into the reservoir along with the condensed stream.
In the case of binary cycle plants, the water or steam from below the underground never comes in direct contact with the turbines. Alternatively, water from underground reserves is pumped via a heat exchanger where it heats another liquid such as isobutene, which boils at a lower temperature. The steam thus generated powers the turbine, whereas the water is recycled into the earth via an injection well.
Geothermal energy offers a cleaner alternative to the energy obtained via fossil fuels. The electricity obtained via geothermal energy is both cheaper and reduces the pressure from depleting reserves of fossil fuels.