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ORIGIN AND DISTRIBUTION OF GEOTHERMAL ENERGY

Geothermal energy is the heat that originates from the core of the earth, where
temperatures are about 4000C. The heat occurs from a combination of two sources: (i) the
original heat produced from the formation of the earth by gravitational collapse, and(ii) the
heat produced by the radioactive decay of various isotopes. As the thermal conductivity of
earth is very low, it is taking billions of years for the earth to cool down. The average
geothermal heat dissipation from the land and ocean surface is about 0.06W/m
2
,which is negligible compared to other sources. A section through the earth is shown in figure. The core is
surrounded by a region known as mantle. Mantle consists of a semi fluid material called the magma. The
mantle is finally covered by the outermost layer known as crust, which has an average thickness of
30km. The temperature in the crust increases with depth at a rate of 30C/km. The temperature at the
base of the crust is about1000C and then increases slowly into the core of the earth. Most of the world s
geothermal sites today are located near the edges of pacific plate, the so called ring of fire. This belt
rings the entire Pacific ocean, including New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, Western North
America, central America, Peru, Chile and Argentina. An extension also penetrates through Asia
into the Mediterranean area. Hot crustal material also occurs at the mid ocean ridges and interior
continental rifts. Geothermal energy is a domestic energy resource with cost, reliability and
environmental advantages over conventional energy sources. It contributes both to energy supply,

with electrical power generation and direct-heat uses. For generation of electricity, hot water is
brought from the underground reservoir to the surface through production wells, and is flashed to
steam in special vessels by release of pressure. The steam is separated from the liquid and fed to a turbine
engine, which turns a generator. Spent geothermal fluid is injected back into peripheral parts of the
reservoir to help maintain reservoir pressure. In the absence of steam, heat from hot water is extracted
through a secondary fluid and the high pressure vapor from the secondary fluid is utilized to run
the turbine

If the reservoir is to be used for direct-heat application, the geothermal water is usually fed to a
heat exchanger and the heat thus extracted is used for home heating, greenhouse, vegetable drying
and a wide variety of other small scale industries. Hot water at temperatures less than 120
o
C can be used for this purpose. Further, the spent hot water, after generating electricity can also be used for
direct application. As a result of today's geothermal production, consumption of exhaustible fossil fuels is
offset, along with the release of acid-rain and greenhouse gases that are caused by fossil-fuel use. Systems
for use of geothermal energy have proven to be extremely reliable and flexible. Geothermal electric
power plants are on line 97% of the time, whereas nuclear plants average only 65% and coal plants
only 75% on-line time. Geothermal plants are modular, and can be installed in increments as needed.
Because they are modular, then can be transported conveniently to any site. Both baseline and
peaking power can be generated. Construction time can be as little as 6 months for plants in the
range 0.5 to 10 MW and as little as 2 years for clusters of plants total ling 250 MW or more. The
competing goals of increased energy production for worldwide social development and of
mitigating release of atmosphere-polluting gases are not compatible using today's fuel mix,
which relies heavily on coal and petroleum. Development of geothermal energy has a large net
positive impact on the environment compared with development of conventional energy sources.
Geothermal power plants have sulfur emissions rates that average only a few percent of those
from fossil-fuel alternatives. The newest generation of geothermal power plants emits only ~135
gm of carbon (as carbon dioxide) per megawatt-hour (MW-hr) of electricity generated. This figure
compares with 128 kg /MW-hr of carbon for a plant

Aining wide acceptance for both residential and commercial buildings. Geothermal heat pumps
are used for space heating and cooling, as well as water heating. Its great advantage is that it
works by concentrating naturally existing heat, rather than by producing heat through combustion of
fossil fuels .The technology relies on the fact that the Earth (beneath the surface) remains at a
relatively constant temperature throughout the year, warmer than the air above it during the
winter and cooler in the summer, very much like a cave. The geothermal heat pump takes advantage of this
by transferring heat stored in the Earth or in ground water into a building during the winter, and
transferring it out of the building and back into the ground during the summer. The ground, in
other words, acts as a heat source in winter and a heat sink in summer. Geothermal energy is
energy derived from the natural heat of the Earth. Geothermal resources are typically
underground reservoirs of hot water or steam created by heat from the Earth, but also include
subsurface areas of dry hot rock. Geothermal energy is considered a renewable resource because
the heat emanating from the interior of the Earth isessentially limitless. Electricity generated
from geothermal energy is sent to users through a transmission system consisting of electric
transmission lines, towers, substations, and other components (see Energy Transmission section
to learn more). The integration of geothermal energy into a transmission system requires careful
planning to balance the mix of geothermal energy with other sources of energy generation

TYPES OF GEOTHERMAL RESOURCES


There are four types of geothermal resources:
(i) Hydrothermal
(ii) (ii)

Geopressured(iii)

Hot dry rock(HDR)(iv)


MagmaAt present, the technology for economic recovery of energy isavailable for hydrothermal
resources only. Thus this is commercially used resource at present. Other resources are going
through a development phase and have not becomecommercial so far
HYDROTHERMAL RESOURCES
There is more than one type of geothermal energy, but only one kind iswidely used to make electricity.
It is called hydrothermal energy.
Hydrothermal resources
have two common ingredients: water
(hydro)
and heat
(thermal)
. Depending on thetemperature of the hydrothermal resource, the heat energy can either be used
for makingelectricity or for heating.
Low Temperature Resources: Heating
Hydrothermal resources at low temperatures (50 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit)are located
everywhere in the United States, just a few feet below the ground. This lowtemperature
geothermal energy is used for heating homes and buildings, growing crops, anddrying lumber,
fruits, and vegetables.In the U.S., geothermal heat pumps are used to heat and cool homes and public
buildings. In fact, approximately 750,000 geothermal exchange systems are installedin the U.S.
Almost 90 percent of the homes and businesses in Iceland use geothermal energyfor space
heating.The hydrothermal resources are located at shallow to moderatedepths(from approximately
100m to 4500m). Temperatures for hydrothermal reserves usedfor electricity generation range
from 90C to 350C but roughly two-thirds are estimated to be in the moderate temperature
range(150C to 200C).

Hydrothermal resources occur when underground water has access to hightemperature porous rocks,
capped by a layer of solid impervious rock. Thus. Water is trappedin the underground reservoir and
is heated by surrounding rocks. Heat is supplied by magma by upward conduction through solid rocks
below the reservoir. Thus it forms a giantunderground boiler. Under high pressure temperature
can reach as high as 350C. The hotwater often escapes through the fissures in the rock, thus
forming hot springs or geysers.Sometimes steam escapes through the cracks in the surface. These
are called fumaroles. Inorder to utilize the hydrothermal energy, wells are drilled either to
intercept a fissure or morecommonly into the hydrothermal reservoir.
High Temperature Resources: Electricity
Hydrothermal resources at high temperatures (300 to 700 degreesFahrenheit) can be used to make
electricity.These high-temperature resources may come from either dry steam wells or hot water
wells.We can use these resources by drilling wells into the Earth and piping the steam or hot
water to the surface. Geothermal wells are one to two miles deep.In a dry steam power plant, the steam
from the geothermal reservoir is piped directly from a well to a turbine generator to make
electricity. In a hot water plant,some of the hot water is turned into steam. The steam powers a
turbine generator just like adry steam plant. When the steam cools, it condenses to water and is
injected back into theground to be used over and over again.Geothermal energy produces only a small
percentage of U.S. electricity. Today, it producesabout 15 billion kilowatt-hours, or less than one
percent of the electricity produced in thiscountry.For practical purposes, hydrothermal resources
are further subdivided into(i)

V
apour dominated (dry steam fields)(ii)

Liquid dominated (wet steam fields)(iii)

Hot water resources


(i)
Vapour-Dominated (Dry steam) system:
Dry steam fields occur when the pressure is not much above the atmospheric pressure and the
temperature is high. Water boils underground and generatessteam at temperatures of about 165C and
a pressure of about 7atm.Steam is extracted from the well, cleaned in a centrifugalseparator to
remove solid matter and then piped directly to a turbine. The exhauststeam of the turbine is condensed
in a direct contact condenser, in which the steamis condensed by direct contact with cooling
water. The resulting warm water iscirculated and cooled in a cooling tower and returned to the
condenser. Thecondensation of steam continuously increases the volume of the cooling
water.Excess water is reinjected at some distance deep into the ground for disposal. Thenon
condensable gases are removed from the condenser by steam jet ejection.Conventional steam-cycle
plants are used to produce energyfrom vapor-dominated reservoirs. As is shown in Figure 6, steam is
extracted fromthe wells, cleaned to remove entrained solids and piped directly to a steam
turbine.This is a well-developed, commercially available technology, with typical unitsizes in the
35-120 MWe capacity range. Recently, in some places, a new trend of installing modular standard
generating units of 20 MWe has been adopted. InItaly, smaller units in the 15 to 20 MWe range have
been introduced.

(ii)

Liquid-Dominated (wet steam) system:


Steam plants offer the most cost effective technology when theresource temperature is above
175C. In high temperature liquid dominatedreservoir, the water temperature is above 175C.
However it is under high pressure and remains in liquid state. The most developed such system is found
in New Zealand, where the reservoir temperature and pressure are 230C and 40 atm, and depths are 600m
to 1400m.When water is brought to the surface and pressure is reduced, rapid boiling occurs and it flashes
into steam and hot water. The steam is separated and used to generate power in usual manner. The
remaining saline hot water can be used for direct heat and then re-injected into the ground. In dual-
flash systems, the steam is flashed a second time from the remaining hot fluid of the first stage, separated
and fed into the dual inlet turbine or into two separate turbines. The efficiency of such a plant is around
8%.Hot-water or wet-steam hydrothermal resources are much more commonly found than dry-steam
deposits. Hot-water systems are often associated with a hot spring that discharges at the surface. When wet
steam deposits occur at considerable depths, the resource temperature is often well above the normal
boiling point of water at atmospheric pressures. These temperatures are known to range from 100-
700F at pressures of 50-150 psig. When such resources penetrate to the surface, either through
wells or through natural geologic anomalies, the water often flashes into steam.

(iii)
Hot water system:
Hydrothermal reservoirs of low to moderate temperatures can be used to provide direct heat for
residential and industrial uses. The hot water is brought to the surface where a heat exchanger
system transfers heat to another fluid although the resource can be used directly if the salt and
solid content is low. The geothermal fluid is re-injected into the ground after the extraction of
heat. Flash steam plants pull deep, high-pressure hot water into lower- pressure tanks and use
the resulting flashed steam to drive turbines. They require fluid temperatures of at least 180C,
usually more. This is the most common type of plant in operation today. Most geothermal areas
contain moderate-temperature water (below400F). Energy is extracted from these fluids in binary-
cycle power plants. Hot geothermal fluid and a secondary (hence, "binary") fluid with a much
lower boiling point than water pass through a heat exchanger. Heat from the geothermal fluid causes the
secondary fluid to flash to vapor, which then drives the turbines. Because this is a closed-loop system,
virtually nothing is emitted to the atmosphere. Moderate-temperature water is by far the more common
geothermal resource, and most geothermal power plants in the future will be binary-cycle plants.

HOT DRY ROCK RESOURCES

In some areas of the western United States, geologic anomalies such as tectonic plate movement
and volcanic activity have created pockets of impermeable rocks covering a magma chamber
within six miles of the surface. The temperature in these pockets increases with depth and
proximity to the magma chamber, but, because of their impermeable nature, they lack a water
aquifer. They are often referred to as hot dry rock (HDR) deposits. Several schemes for useful energy
production from HDR resources have been proposed, but all basically involve creation of an
artificial aquifer will be used to bring heat to the surface. The concept is being tested by the U.S.
Department of Energy at Fenton Hill near Los Alamos, New Mexico, and is also being studied in
England. The research so far indicates that it is technologically feasible to fracture a hot
impermeable system though hydraulic fracturing from a deep well. A typical two-well HDR
system is shown in Fig. 50.2. Water is injected at high pressure through the first well to the
reservoir and returns to the surface through the second well at approximately the temperature of
the reservoir. The water (steam) is used to generate electric power and is then re circulated
through the first well. The critical parameters affecting the ultimate commercial feasibility of
HDR resources are the geothermal gradient and the achievable well flow rate.
GEOPRESSURED RESOURCES
Near the Gulf Coast of the United States are a number of deep sedimentary basins that are
geologically very young, that is, less than 60 million years. In such regions, fluid located in
subsurface rock formations carry a part of the overburden load, there by increasing the pressure
within the formation. Such formations are referred to as geo pressured and are judged by some
geologists to be promising sources of energy in the coming decades. Geo pressured basins exist in
several areas within the United States, but those of current interest are located in the
TexasLouisiana coast. These are of particular interest because they are very large in terms of
both areal extent and thickness, and the geo pressured liquids appear to have a great deal of
dissolved methane. In past investigations of the Gulf Coast, a number of "geo pressured fairways"
were identified; these are thick sandstone bodies expected to contain geo pressured fluids of at least
PRIME MO