Authors: Relly Victoria V. Petrescu and Florian Ion T. Petrescu Geothermal power requires no fuel (except for pumps), and is therefore immune to fuel ground source heat pump cost fluctuations.
Florian Ion Tiberiu Petrescu
Bucharest Polytechnic University,Guest Posting Romania
Relly Victoria Virgil Petrescu
Bucharest Polytechnic University, Romania
Geothermal energy is heat energy generated and stored in the Earth. Thermal energy is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. The geothermal energy of the Earth’s crust originates from the original formation of the planet and from radioactive decay of materials (in currently uncertain but possibly roughly equal proportions). The geothermal gradient, which is the difference in temperature between the core of the planet and its surface, drives a continuous conduction of thermal energy in the form of heat from the core to the surface.
Geothermal energy is heat energy generated and stored in the Earth. Thermal energy is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. The geothermal energy of the Earth’s crust originates from the original formation of the planet and from radioactive decay of materials (in currently uncertain but possibly roughly equal proportions). The geothermal gradient, which is the difference in temperature between the core of the planet and its surface, drives a continuous conduction of thermal energy in the form of heat from the core to the surface. The adjective geothermal originates from the Greek roots γη (ge), meaning earth, and θερμος (thermos), meaning hot.
Earth’s internal heat is thermal energy generated from radioactive decay and continual heat loss from Earth’s formation. Temperatures at the core–mantle boundary may reach over 4000 °C (7,200 °F). The high temperature and pressure in Earth’s interior cause some rock to melt and solid mantle to behave plastically, resulting in portions of the mantle convecting upward since it is lighter than the surrounding rock. Rock and water are heated in the crust, sometimes up to 370 °C (700 °F).
From hot springs, geothermal energy has been used for bathing since Paleolithic times and for space heating since ancient Roman times, but it is now better known for electricity generation. Worldwide, 11,700 megawatts (MW) of geothermal power is online in 2013. An additional 28 gigawatts of direct geothermal heating capacity is installed for district heating, space heating, spas, industrial processes, desalination and agricultural applications as of 2010.
Geothermal power is cost-effective, reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, but has historically been limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries. Recent technological advances have dramatically expanded the range and size of viable resources, especially for applications such as home heating, opening a potential for widespread exploitation. Geothermal wells release greenhouse gases trapped deep within the earth, but these emissions are much lower per energy unit than those of fossil fuels.
The Earth’s geothermal resources are theoretically more than adequate to supply humanity’s energy needs, but only a very small fraction may be profitably exploited. Drilling and exploration for deep resources are very expensive. Forecasts for the future of geothermal power depend on assumptions about technology, energy prices, subsidies, plate boundary movement and interest rates. Pilot programs like EWEB’s customer opt in Green Power Program show that customers would be willing to pay a little more for a renewable energy source like geothermal. But as a result of government assisted research and industry experience, the cost of generating geothermal power has decreased by 25% over the past two decades. In 2001, geothermal energy costs between two and ten US cents per kWh.
Matherials and Methods
Hot springs have been used for bathing at least since Paleolithic times. The oldest known spa is a stone pool on China’s Lisan mountain built in the Qin Dynasty in the 3rd century BC, at the same site where the Huaqing Chi palace was later built. In the first century AD, Romans conquered Aquae Sulis, now Bath, Somerset, England, and used the hot springs there to feed public baths and underfloor heating. The admission fees for these baths probably represent the first commercial use of geothermal power. The world’s oldest geothermal district heating system in Chaudes-Aigues, France, has been operating since the 14th century. The earliest industrial exploitation began in 1827 with the use of geyser steam to extract boric acid from volcanic mud in Larderello, Italy.
In 1892, America’s first district heating system in Boise, Idaho was powered directly by geothermal energy and was copied in Klamath Falls, Oregon in 1900. The first known building in the world to utilize geothermal energy as its primary heat source was the Hot Lake Hotel in Union County, Oregon, whose construction was completed in 1907. A deep geothermal well was used to heat greenhouses in Boise in 1926, and geysers were used to heat greenhouses in Iceland and Tuscany at about the same time. Charlie Lieb developed the first downhole heat exchanger in 1930 to heat his house. Steam and hot water from geysers began heating homes in Iceland starting in 1943.
In the 20th century, demand for electricity led to the consideration of geothermal power as a generating source. Prince Piero Ginori Conti tested the first geothermal power generator on 4 July 1904, at the same Larderello dry steam field where geothermal acid extraction began. It successfully lit four light bulbs. Later, in 1911, the world’s first commercial geothermal power plant was built there. It was the world’s only industrial producer of geothermal electricity until New Zealand built a plant in 1958. In 2012, it produced some 594 megawatts.
Lord Kelvin invented the heat pump in 1852, and Heinrich Zoelly had patented the idea of using it to draw heat from the ground in 1912. But it was not until the late 1940s that the geothermal heat pump was successfully implemented. The earliest one was probably Robert C. Webber’s home-made 2.2 kW direct-exchange system, but sources disagree as to the exact timeline of his invention. J. Donald Kroeker designed the first commercial geothermal heat pump to heat the Commonwealth Building (Portland, Oregon) and demonstrated it in 1946. Professor Carl Nielsen of Ohio State University built the first residential open loop version in his home in 1948. The technology became popular in Sweden as a result of the 1973 oil crisis and has been growing slowly in worldwide acceptance since then. The 1979 development of polybutylene pipe greatly augmented the heat pump’s economic viability.
In 1960, Pacific Gas and Electric began operation of the first successful geothermal electric power plant in the United States at The Geysers in California. The original turbine lasted for more than 30 years and produced 11 MW net power.
The binary cycle power plant was first demonstrated in 1967 in the USSR and later introduced to the US in 1981. This technology allows the generation of electricity from much lower temperature resources than previously. In 2006, a binary cycle plant in Chena Hot Springs, Alaska, came online, producing electricity from a record low fluid temperature of 57 °C (135 °F).
The International Geothermal Association (IGA) has reported that 10,715 megawatts (MW) of geothermal power in 24 countries is online, which was expected to generate 67,246 GWh of electricity in 2010. This represents a 20% increase in online capacity since 2005. IGA projects growth to 18,500 MW by 2015, due to the projects presently under consideration, often in areas previously assumed to have little exploitable resources.
In 2010, the United States led the world in geothermal electricity production with 3,086 MW of installed capacity from 77 power plants. The largest group of geothermal power plants in the world is located at The Geysers, a geothermal field in California. The Philippines is the second highest producer, with 1,904 MW of air source heat pump installers capacity online. Geothermal power makes up approximately 27% of Philippine electricity generation.
In 2016, Indonesia set in third with 1,647 MW online behind USA at 3,450 MW and the Philippines at 1,870 MW, but Indonesia will become second due to an additional online 130 MW at the end of 2016 and 255 MW in 2017. Indonesia’s 28,994 MW is the largest geothermal reserves in the world, and it is predicted to overtake the USA in the next decade.