Questions on How is Geothermal Energy Collected, Answered

Geothermal energy is here to stay, and with the associated costs with traditional energy showing no signs of slowing down the challenge to get into sustainable energy like geothermal energy will continue to rise as well.

The good thing about geothermal energy is that this is a sustainable energy resource with minimal environmental impact. This is simply the heat coming from the Earth, and the heat is sourced in different manners depending on the type of power plant in the area and depending on the nature of the business of the energy company.

There are some explorations that allow companies to generate heat from the shallow ground. And there are explorations as well that will take several miles into the hot dry rock, or even further into the hot magma in order to get the energy from the Earth. But perhaps there will be a better understanding on how is geothermal energy collected if the types of geothermal power plants are discussed. There are three technologies that are used in order to transform the hydrothermal liquid into electricity, and these three conversion technologies include the dry steam system, the flash steam and the binary cycle that makes use of the binary (closed loop) system.

Using dry steam power plants to collect geothermal energy

These types of plants make use of the hydrothermal fluids that are mostly steam. The steam that is sourced under the surface is directed to the turbine and the turbine will drive the generator that produces the electricity. This is a cleaner alternative since no fossil fuels are burned in order to run the turbine. The only output of these plants is the excess steam and minimal amount of gases.

Flash steam power plants

For these power plants, hydrothermal fluids with temperatures exceeding 182 Celsius are used. The hydrothermal fluids are sprayed into the tank that is held at a lower pressure than these fluids which in turn will vaporize it. The vaporization will power the turbine which in turn will energize the generator. If there are remaining hydrothermal liquids in the tank, the liquids will be ‘flashed’ once again in the other tank in order to generate more electricity.

Using binary-cycle power plants

For areas where the hydrothermal fluids that are sourced under the surface features moderate temperature, the binary-cycle power plants are used. The hot hydrothermal fluid and a secondary fluid with a lower boiling point (binary fluid) are passed through the heat exchanger. The secondary fluid will be flashed to vapor, and the vapor will drive the turbines. And since this is a closed loop system, nothing is emitted as an output.

These are the major ways on how the steam and the hot water reservoirs are used after these are extracted and drilled from the Earth, and these are the ways as well on how is geothermal energy collected. But don’t think that the steam, hot water reservoirs and the hot dry rock are the only ones where the energy is collected. There are other geothermal energy sources, and exploration companies are still searching and asking for ways on how is geothermal energy stored other than these known ways.