4 December 2013
Geothermal is derived from the Greek word ‘geo’ which means ‘earth’ and ‘thermal’ meaning ‘heat’, therefore geothermal refers to an energy or heat from the earth. In layman’s terms it is referred to power resulting from the thermal activating within the earth’s crust as a result of volcanic activity. Geothermal energy’s resources range from the surfaces just below the earth, to the hot rock, which heats water deep beneath the earth. These steam reservoirs can be used to generate electricity for both commercial as well as domestic use1. Geothermal energy has for many years been used in some parts of the world while heating as well as cooking. The mechanism used to produce this unique power uses a geothermal heat pump system, which takes advantage of the temperatures below the surface of the earth and thus, is utilized while providing heat during winter. During summer, a reverse process is likely to be done while utilizing the use of the power generated to drive coolers. As a result of it being so useful it’s now being produced in more than 20 countries in the world. The U.S. is the largest producer of geothermal energy in the world though.
A lot of advantages can as well be derived from its use over the other forms of energy some of which are as noted; rarely does it require coal or any other form of fossil fuel to produce power. Compared to the clean gas-fueled plants, a geothermal power plant produces little carbon dioxide. Another advantage is that geothermal energy is available throughout the year, unlike wind and solar forms of energy.
Geothermal energy also causes some problems to the environment. This is because it releases a low concentration of hydrogen sulfide, which smells like smolten rotten egg. Some geothermal fluids disposed also contain toxic materials. Even if geothermal sites had the capability to produce energy for many years, some
References: Boyle, Godfrey. Renewable energy. Oxford University Press, 2004. DiPippo, Ronald. "Second law assessment of binary plants generating power from low-temperature geothermal fluids." Geothermics 33, no. 5 (2004): 565-586. Fridleifsson, Ingvar B. "Geothermal energy for the benefit of the people." Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 5, no. 3 (2001): 299-312. Kuo, Gioietta. "Geothermal energy." World Future Review 4, no. 1 (2012): 5-7. Lund, John W., and Derek H. Freeston. "World-wide direct uses of geothermal energy 2000." Geothermics 30, no. 1 (2001): 29-68.