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GEOTHERMAL POWER PLANTS

GEOTHERMAL POWER PLANTS


Ageothermal power plantuses its geothermal activity to generate power. This
type ofnatural energy productionis extremely environmentally friendly and used in
many geothermal hot spots around the globe.

To harness the energy, deep holes are drilled into the earth (much like when drilling
for oil) until a significant geothermal hot spot is found.

When the heat source has been discovered, a pipe is attached deep down inside the
hole which allows hot steam from deep within the earths crust to rise up to the
surface.

The pressurized steam is then channelled into a turbine which begins to turn under
the large force of the steam. This turbine is linked to the generator and so the
generator also begins to turn, generating electricity. We then pump cold water down
a new pipe which is heated by the earth and then sent back up the first pipe to
repeat the process.

ADVANTAGE OF GEOTHERMAL POWER PLANT


Environmentally Friendly - Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source that's
highly environmentally friendly. Little disruption is made to the environment as a
result of the various processes that are used to harness this energy source in order to
provide electricity. Few chemicals and pollutants feature in geothermal electricity
production.

Highly Efficient - Geothermal energy is highly efficient and can be used to provide
electricity in select areas or even to provide heating for our homes and business on a
much wider scale via the use of ground source heat pumps.

Cost Effective - As geothermal power stations are relatively small and less complex
than large fossil fuel alternatives, they are highly cost effective, especially when they
are placed in areas of high geological/tectonic activity where magma is closer to the
earth's crust when compared with other locations.

Job Creation - The introduction of geothermal energy systems on both an industrial


and domestic scale has helped to boost jobs in many different countries. This is a key
advantage for areas that may have already been experiencing job shortages.

Land Value - Another advantage of geothermal energy and tied into the cost
effectiveness of this energy source is land value. Geothermal power stations are
often placed in areas of high geological activity where land values may be low
due to obvious reasons. This helps to provide cost savings for energy companies
that wish to make use of geothermal activity.

Almost Infinite - Although geothermal activity in a particular area is actually


finite, this is likely to be available for anywhere between 5,000 and 1,000,000
years. This huge time scale means geothermal energy is almost infinite and will
be able to long live out many fossil fuel alternatives.

Always On - As long as geothermal activity is present in a particular region, this


energy source will always be on and will be fairly constant. This means that
unlike solar, wind, wave and tidal alternatives, geothermal energy can provide
continuous electricity production whatever the weather.

Very Quiet - Another significant advantage of geothermal energy is how quiet it


can be. Geothermal energy is the electric car of power stations and is likely to
provide little noise pollution to nearby residents.

DISADVANTAGE OF GEOTHERMAL POWER PLANT

Availability - The availability of geothermal energy that is capable of


feeding geothermal power stations is limited. This intense energy source
is often only available in countries where geothermal activity is at its
peak, mainly tectonic/volcanic regions such as Iceland.

Significant Investment Required - A significant investment is often


required prior to building a geothermal power station. Geological surveys
have to be undertaken to ensure the location is suitable for geothermal
electricity production before any potential installation work can go ahead.
It's often costly to transport any required materials to remote locations
where there is sufficient geothermal activity.

Harmful Gas Potential - Geothermal power stations have the potential to


release harmful gases into the air. Toxic gases exist deep beneath the
ground in various regions and can sometimes be released via the
infrastructure used by geothermal power stations. Most modern

Localised Supply - As geothermal is trapped beneath our feet, we cannot extract,


store and transport this energy source to other countries as we do with fossil fuels
such as oil, coal and gas. Geothermal energy has to be used at source to generate
electricity, thus providing a supply of electricity for the electrical grid system of only
the source country.

The Steam Can Stop - Geothermal power stations have the potential to cool the rocks
beneath them buried deep under the ground. If the rocks are cooled via too much
water flowing into the well, they will no longer be able to produce the steam required
to turn a generator, thus rendering a site useless and resulting in significant losses
for any company making use of geothermal energy at that location.

Visual Pollution - Geothermal power stations, as with many other power station
designs can be unsightly and provide visual pollution. Networks of pipe systems have
to be utilised for production purposes and many people are opposed to the sight of
these.

TYPES OF GEOTHERMAL
POWER PLANTS

DRY STEAM POWER PLANT


The first is the dry steam power plant which is used to generate power directly from the steam
generated inside the earth.
In this case, we do not need additional heating boilers and boiler fuel, as steam or water vapour
fill the wells through rock catcher and directly rotates the turbine, which activates a generator
to produce electricity.
This type of power plant is not common since natural hydrothermal reservoirs dry steam are
very rare.

FLASH AND DOUBLE FLASH CYCLE


Hydrothermal fluids above 360F (182C) can be used in flash plants to
make electricity.
Fluid is sprayed into a tank held at a much lower pressure than the fluid,
causing some of the fluid to rapidly vaporize, or "flash." The vapor then
drives a turbine, which drives a generator.
If any liquid remains in the tank, it can be flashed again in a second tank
(double flash) to extract even more energy.

BINARY CYCLE
Most geothermal areas contain moderate-temperature water (below 400F). 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.

COMPONENTS OF A
GEOTHERMAL PLANT

THE WELL
The most important part of any geothermal plant is the source of steam. Steam from
the underground thermal reservoirs, 1000 to 2000 m deep, raises to the surface though
bore holes drilled through the stones, rocks, and other layers. This is similar to a
production well of an oil rig. Each location has one or many wells with the output
connected to a header. Headers and pipes connect the wellheads to the power plant.
Depending on the nature of the geothermal reserve, the wells may be located as far as
10 to 14 kilometres from the power plant.

Depending on the source, the steam from the wells can be either dry or moist. Wet
steam passes through moisture separators where the water separates. The water or the
brine then goes for reinjection back to the underground reservoir through reinjection
wells.

Turbines
The turbines in geothermal power plants have special requirements. The steam can be
corrosive due to many Non Condensable Gases (NCG) including Hydrogen Sulphide. This
requires special materials and corrosion protection for the turbine components. Special
coatings protect the rotor, blades, and nozzles from corrosion.
The generation and transmission side of geothermal power plants is similar to
conventional power plants.

Condenser
As in conventional power plants, the steam condenses at a vacuum at the turbine exi,t so
the work done by unit mass of steam is high. Most of the plants use direct contact
condensers that use the condensed water itself as the cooling media.
Cooling towers cool the hot condensate for use in the condensers and for plant cooling.

Reinjection
The excess condensate and the brine from the separators returns back to the
underground thermal reservoirs. Reinjection wells similar to the steam production wells
are located in appropriate places. Some reservoirs can give outputs for years without reinjection.
Some plants reinject municipal waste water from nearby cities deep into the wells.

NCG & H2S removal


The steam contains Non-condensable gases including Hydrogen Sulphide which separates
in the condenser. Steam ejectors suck out these gases so that the vacuum is maintained
in the condenser.
Depending on the Hydrogen Sulphide content special H2S removal systems are used.
These are the key components of a geothermal power plant.

Flash Separator
A flash separator consists of a vessel where the pressure is
lower than the inlet stream. When the inlet stream enters the
tank (which has a larger volume), the pressure may drop, as
well as the temperature. When the pressure drops, the vapors
dissolved in the liquid inlet will boil, "flash," into the vapor
phase. Thus, the dissolved gases in the liquid are separated by
"flashing" them.