- Green Technology
Heat your House in a very Clean Way with Geothermal Energy
Geothermal Energy: Clean Heat
Geothermal energy is one of the many renewable sources we can find on earth, alongside wind, solar rays and water. Just like the other resources, a geothermal system can be used to power many houses, applications and machines. It is also available all around the world since it is based upon the use of built up heat under the crust layer of the ground. It is considered an infinite amount of energy because the earth will not stop providing this interior warmth for another billion years.
This system will work best where there is already heat emanating outside of the earth, may it be a volcano or a natural hot spring. For geothermal power to be used there needs to be heat, permeability and water. Since the heat waves from the earth continuously push out of the inner core, hitting rocks or a body of water. When it hits rocks these usually turn into magma which then get to the surface as lava. If it hits water then it becomes a hot spring which is called a geothermal reservoir.
The energy received from these reservoirs can be easily used to make clean and efficient electricity. The power plant gets all the steam and hot water and drives it into an electrical generator that then conducts the electricity into homes or nearby buildings. The only real problem with this resource could be the location one has to be in for it to work properly, always relying on the reservoirs and how much money is needed to make a power plant for the steam to be converted into electricity.
Electricity and Heat, the Powerful Combination
These reservoirs are not just used for electricity though. Even though their durability and their production rate is high, most of the time they are just used for natural heating. Activities like space heating, cooling, food, hot spring baths, spas, agriculture, aquaculture, greenhouses, and health treatments can all benefit from geothermal rich locations.
This practice has existed for quite some time too, especially with the Romans and Asians taking full advantage of heat being used to heal and relax. This heat can also be used in times where there is no energy, especially to grow food in the winter, when it is otherwise too cold and hostile for anything to grow.
Geothermal heat pumps are the most lucrative systems to get the most out of the heat though, making heating and cooling systems filled with water that go through the ground, hitting the heat but not boiling the water or letting it turn to vapor. These GHPs are used for many houses for the hot water or heaters; especially closer to the North. We are not the only ones to take advantage of this heat too. Most animals go deep underground for warmth in the winter.
Types of Geothermal Power Plants
There are four known kinds of power plants in this area. These are,
- Flash Power Plants: The idea in this system is to make a flash effect in which most of the water quickly vaporizes. This vapor turns a turbine, and that turbine turns on the generator
- Dry Steam Power Plant: The steam that is stored in the reservoir is used, and there is no need to create a flash effect. The natural vapor turns the turbine that powers the generator.
- Binary Power Plants: Based on a closed loop, all the energy and steam is kept inside with no release to the outside. The water from the reservoir is used with water that is mostly cold or at a lower temperature than it. This makes them share temperatures when they touch; vaporizing the cold water that then turns the generator.
- Combined Cycle: They combine both flash and binary techniques to get more out of the reservoir in a smaller amount of time.
Costs of a Geothermal System
Even though anyone could tap into this renewable resource from anywhere in the earth, some places are harder to get anything from, especially if you have to dig very far in to get to the natural heat. The size of the hole, the terrain and the system itself can cost a lot of money, going from a minimum of $10,000 and only getting higher.
If you want to get the system to work with your already functioning home pumping system it could cost a lot extra since the modifications have to withstand any added pressure or be put close to the reservoir. If what you want to do is save up on energy, you might actually go into a small debt if trying to get a whole system arranged. You would eventually get out of the debt but there is no way of telling how long that would take.
You also need to hire professionals for this. It is still a relatively new angle at renewable energy, at least in the case of the systems used so you will need a lot of help for setup, looking for the reservoir and changing your already existent cooling system for the geothermal one.
Benefits of a Geothermal System
This system does have some lows in terms of its costs but after arranging all of those cons, there could be a real opportunity. The geothermal systems make little to no noise, much like a fridge, since they share most of the same layout and all. There isn't a lot of maintenance that goes into having one of these systems in your home and their longevity is promised to be a good 25 years. It is also clean energy. There won't be any more use of combustion or coal in your house for heating and cooling. The only bad thing is that most of the pump units use electricity and that still runs with oil fuels.
There is a lot of saving involved in having a geothermal system too. Normal heating systems can use up a lot of electricity and produce little heat in return. With geothermal resources though, your cooling costs are severely reduced.
What to be Careful of
Inexperience and bad usage of geothermal energy could cause problems though. Even though the cooling system does not need a lot of maintenance once it is up and running, not paying close attention to the surface and the heat used could bring about harm to the environment, and could even trigger earthquakes.
The chances of these kinds of things happening are low, especially when the system is just being used for your home alone and not to power a large section of town. Just keep in mind that anything in excess is not all too good and could cause a meltdown to some cheap or unstable materials that are close to the heat of the system.
Energy and Productivity Verdict
After considering all these factors to having geothermal energy, the concept still remains the same. It is a renewable resource and is far better than usual coal powered structures. Yet, there have not been enough advances for it to be fully independent and the after effects it could bring upon the earth's surface can be fairly dangerous in the future. It is bound to have many more improvements though and could hold potential we still have not seen with other sources of energy.
Maybe there could even be an adaption between them all, most likely including them in one of the most eco-friendly organizations. We can only help our scientists and society in researching more on this fascinating product of our home and how we can use it to stop harming nature and ourselves.
Article by: Steven Gutiérrez