What is geothermal energy? Geothermal energy is the energy that comes from the heat of the earth. It is a sustainable and clean way to produce energy. Resources of geothermal energy lie beneath the Earth’s surface in various depths ranging from a few meters to a few miles.
Heat pumps:The ground maintains a temperature of about 10º to 16º at a depth of 10 feet. This heat can be used to warm up and cool down buildings. A possible way to do this is through geothermal heat pumps which consist of three parts: the actual heat pump, the air delivery system and the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is a system of pipes buried underground near the building. In the winter, the heat pump pulls air from the heat exchange system and provides it to the building through the air delivery system. In the summer, the heat pump removes the hot air from the building and with the help of the air delivery system returns the heat to the heat exchanger. The energy transferred to the heat exchanger can be further used to heat water.
Geothermal wells: When hot water is stored in deeper layers of the Earth, geothermal wells are used. Some of these wells use the steam produced from the vaporized water in order to generate a turbine whereas others use the hot water to boil a working fluid that consequently generates the turbine. On the other hand, hot water near the surface of the earth can be tapped into directly without drilling. It is then used for central heating, greenhouse heating, drying crops and other industrial purposes.
Hot dry rock: Hot dry rock resources can be found anywhere on Earth at a depth between 3 to 5 miles. In order to tap into these resources, scientists inject cold water into the ground. This water passes through the fractured rock and then comes again to the surface through another well at a much higher temperature. This hot water is used for energy purposes like electricity, ventilation, drying out fish and removing ice from the streets. Unfortunately the technology is not yet developed in order to capture the heat from deeper parts of the Earth (magma).
In light of the above, we realize the enormous potential that lies in geothermal energy. Great amounts of energy can be produced in an environmentally friendly way by using the natural warmth of the Earth. Though some of these technologies are expensive, continuous research and development has made it feasible for more communities to cover their needs through geothermal energy.