Geothermal energy is heat within the earth. The heat is carried up to the earth’s surface by water or steam and the energy from the heat is harnessed to generate clean electricity or used for direct heating.
While geothermal energy is most often generated in tectonically active regions like Iceland, New Zealand, and the Philippines due to the temperature required for efficient use, with emerging technologies and processes, geothermal energy can be tapped almost anywhere on the planet.
Solas Energy Consulting’s services have focused on geothermal power. We have completed quantification studies for greenhouse gases, and reviewed pilot projects for feasibility. Technology reviews and market roll out estimates for different geothermal technologies have also been completed. We have reviewed Enhanced Geothermal Systems, as well as geothermal co-production systems with oil and gas.
We create and implement solutions that respond to the unique challenges and goals for each project. We communicate with honesty and deliver on our promises, ensuring that our clients’ ambitious projects are completed on time, within budget, and in compliance with regulations.
What is Geothermal Energy?
The simplest way to explain geothermal energy is that it is the heat within the earth. If you are familiar with the Greek language, you may have already concluded this! Geothermal comes from combining the Greek word geo, for the earth, with the Greek word therme, for heat. Since heat is continuously produced within the earth, this is also a renewable and eco-friendly resource. These days, we are looking towards renewable energy to use as an alternative to non-renewable energy like fossil fuels– which also hurt our planet.
You may wonder how exactly geothermal energy and heat within the earth is produced. Radioactive particles slowly decay over time in the earth’s core. This is a process that happens in all rocks and is what exactly produces the geothermal energy that we can then harness and use for electricity. The way that this works is that this heat is harnessed and the stream is what is actually used to create the electricity and energy at power plants.
The steam is coming from reservoirs and bodies of water which are located underneath the planet’s surface. When the steam is released, it rotates a turbine which then activates the generator that will produce the electricity for consumer use.
Geothermal energy dates back tens of thousands of years. The first record of it being used was by the Paleo Indians in North America, where they settled at hot springs to take advantage of the geothermal energy here. The hot springs were of course a source of warmth, as well as cleansing due to the minerals in the water.
What are the 4 Sources of geothermal energy?
Geothermal energy is an energy source that is extracted from different kinds of geological formations. This kind of energy is produced by the heat of the planet’s molten interior. The different types of geothermal energy are hydrothermal, geopressurized, hot dry rock, and magma.
Hydrothermal energy is taken from large bodies of water– hence the “hydro” in the name. Heat or energy is taken from the water, but it is important to note that “heat” does not always mean a high temperature, but instead can be referring to a relative temperature difference. Hydrothermal energy can be taken from hot springs, geysers, or other bodies of water. The water is then pumped into a tank at high pressure– while the tank is held at significantly lower pressure– which causes the fluid to vaporize and drive the turbine that drives the power generator.
Then, there is Geopressurized energy. This is where hot water aquifers are trapped in sedimentary formations at high pressure. The aquifers contain dissolved methane. This is because this kind of energy is derived from the pressure in the earth. The deeper the aquifers are buried, the more pressure there will be there. This can be done on a large scale, such as on the scale of a big power plant, or on a smaller scale, too. Geopressurized energy and the other kinds of geothermal energy are great because they can help to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions when powering homes or other locations.
Hot Dry Rock
Hot dry rock energy comes from rocks that are heated by the earth’s magma and located several kilometres down in the earth. In order to harness the geothermal energy, rocks are fractured artificially– this fracture system will then act as a heat exchanger. Water will also be circulated from an injection borehole toward the production borehole. Water is not naturally present at the site for hot dry rock energy systems like it is for hydrothermal energy. This is why the water must be circulated through from a well. The steam once the water is heated will be channelled upwards and into or through a turbine.
The last source of geothermal energy is magma. Magma is the molten rock that can be found below the planet’s surface. One of the ways that magma is used and harnessed for energy is that the magma is tapped to allow the heat or steam out. When water is in this sort of super hot, “supercritical” state, it contains significant amounts of energy that can be harnessed. This is why we tap into extremely hot water that is in rock that was heated by magma– the steam can be used to run turbines and then be converted into a usable energy source.
About Solas Energy Consulting
Solas Energy leads the way in helping companies and organizations achieve a sustainable, zero-carbon future. Specializing in renewable energy, energy storage, hydrogen, electric vehicles (EV), biomass, geothermal, grid modernization, and climate change solutions, we support utility and commercial scale projects throughout their project life cycle.