Old Faithful geyser is a type of geothermal power
Geothermal power uses heat in the earth. This heat is used to make steam to generate electricity. According to Wikipedia as of 2007 geothermal power supplied only 1% of the world energy needs. It is used commercially in over 70 countries. California has 33 plants and produces 90% of the US geothermal power. Nevada has 15, Hawaii and Utah each have one.
The direct use of hot water as an energy source goes way back to ancient times. The Roman, Chinese, and Native Americans used hot mineral springs for cooking, heating and bathing. After bathing the next most common use of geothermal power is direct use for heating. Hot water around the area can be pumped directly into buildings for heat. 95% of all heating in Reykjavik, Iceland is like this.
In 1892 Boise Idaho first district heating started. It grew to supple 200 homes and 40 downtown businesses. Then in 1904 Prince Piero Ginori Conti invented the first geothermal electric power plant. He used a piston engine feed with steam. The steam was made from a heat exchanger filled with hot water from the well. The engine was hooked up to a 10,000 watt generator.
In 1913 after several years of safe operation, a larger 250 kilowatt geothermal power plant was built. This provided plenty of electrical power to supple all the chemical manufactures and villages in the area. It is still in operation today. That size would power about 250 homes.
The first geothermal power plant to open in the US was in 1960. This was located in Sonoma CA. The first one produced 11 megawatts of power. This area has grown to over 1000 megawatts of geothermal power. That’s enough to power about 1 million homes.
Geothermal power is generated in the earth’s core. 4000 miles below the surface the temperate is hotter than the surface of the sun. People use geothermal power for heat and to generate electricity. How far you have to drill is dependent to how hot the water is at what depth.
There are 3 basic ways to generate electricity with geothermal power. The first is Dry Steam. This uses steam right from the geothermal reservoir to turn turbines. The second type is called Flash Steam. This method takes high pressure hot water from deep in the earth and converts it to steam to turn turbines that generate electricity.
When the water cools down and condenses back to water. It is pumped back into the ground to be used over and over again. Most Plants work like this. Temperatures for this are usually around 300 degree Fahrenheit with some newer technology that works down to 260 degrees.
The third way is called a Binary Popper plant. These transfer heat from one liquid to another. Geothermal hot water is used to turn another liquid to steam and turn a generator.
The advantages of geothermal power are these. The energy harnesses is clean and safe for the surrounding environment. It is sustainable, because the water used as steam is pumped back into the ground and used for steam again.
It is not affected by bad weather. They work day and night, 24 hours a day 365 days a year. They also work very well for base load power, with a 98% operating time. It is also very scalable. A large geothermal plant could power a city, or a smaller one could power a village. Small heat pumps for $28,000 can be a very cost effective way to heat homes.
However the disadvantages of geothermal power are these. Generating electricity from this can be expensive. In Germany a new 3.5 megawatt plant that’s enough to power 3500 homes, cost around 47 million to 63 million. The price of drilling a well is 60% plus this technology is not available in all locations. It is only about 35 – 40 percent efficient with a 30 year lifecycle.
Geothermal power is very popular in Germany. They are building plants as fast as they can drill. In fact they have started increasing production on well drill bits so they can drill more. Idaho also just completed one.
It produces 9 mega watts, enough to power for 2,900 homes. It is the first plant in the state. If all goes well they want to increase output to 36 megawatts and then maybe 90 mega watts. That’s enough for 90,000 homes.
Geothermal power is a great solution in certain areas of the world that can use it. However for most of the world it is just not possible.
A better may to make power is with magnets. These systems can be over 100% efficient with no pollution. This technology is real and being suppressed. Please look around on this website. There are lots of great working examples.
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