When we mention renewable energy, the first few sources that come to mind include solar, hydroelectric and wind energy, but how much do you know about geothermal energy?
Geothermal energy essentially is the thermal energy generated from the continual heat loss from the Earth’s formation. and only certain countries are located in areas that fully benefit from this.
Unlike solar and wind energy, only certain countries that are located near plate boundaries of the Earth will have access to geothermal energy and benefit from it. Those that do are blessed with access to a cost-effective, reliable, highly sustainable and environmentally source of energy!
In this article, we kick our series into high gear and will bring you through a journey of how geothermal energy is helping to power cities and countries.
How Can Geothermal Energy Be Harnessed Into Electricity?
Geothermal energy comes in 2 main forms, vapor or liquid where vapor being the primary source of energy that is converted to electricity since its temperature can go up to 300 degrees Celsius!
The majority of today’s geothermal electricity plants use the flash or binary technologies depending on how hot the temperature of the steam or water is.
For the flash technology plant, the water from underground wells is then flashed separated into water and steam. The steam is then used to drive a turbine and generate electricity. The higher the temperature of the water, the flashing can be done to generate steam and generate even more electricity. For a binary power plant, the hot water from the earth is mainly used to heat another fluid which is then vaporised to drive a turbine-generator.
Of all the renewable sources of energy in the world, electricity from geothermal energy is one of the most reliable and efficient sources that can operate regularly at around 90%! Because there is no downtime (unlike solar or wind energy), these plants can run continuously and provide a baseload level of energy that can help contribute to the daily energy needs of communities, cities and countries.
The Top 4 Countries Benefiting Tremendously From Geothermal Energy
#1 United States Of America
Since 1960, the US has been actively harnessing geothermal energy to generate electricity with the most prominent source being The Geysers in California with itself having an output of 750 MW.
While the entire US geothermal electricity installed capacity exceeds 3,500 MW, the distribution isn’t uniform with the bulk concentrated in the western states of the union with California, Nevada and Utah contributing more than 95% of the nation’s total geothermal generated electricity.
Our neighbor, Indonesia, stands proudly at number 2 with 1,948 MW of installed capacity when it comes to geothermal electricity. This is largely no surprise as Indonesia is known for being located at and near strings of volcanoes that scatter across their islands and mainlands.
In fact, it is reported that Indonesia sits at an estimated of 40% of the world’s potential geothermal resources at a breathtaking figure of 28,000 MW!
With over 1,800 of geothermal electricity installed capacity, Philippines sits at number 3 of this list. Like Indonesia, the Philippines sits along the Ring of Fire Zone of Pacific volcanoes, a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements.
While that might seem scary, it brings with it tremendous geothermal benefits when it comes to generating electricity. It is estimated that the Philippines can potentially generate 2,100 MW from geothermal sources by 2025, outranking Indonesia!
Located between Asia and Europe, Turkey is number 4 on our list with an impressive 1,200 MW of installed geothermal electricity capacity.
Like the other countries on the list, Turkey is blessed in its geographical location, sitting on reservoirs of geothermal fluids. While Turkey operates only two main power plants, Turkey’s potential geothermal energy sits around 4,500 MW, increasing the financial incentive of $260 million Turkey’s economy enjoys annually as a result of the plants.
How Ideal Is Geothermal Energy?
While geothermal energy brings tremendous benefits such as meeting baseload energy demands, does not cause significant amounts of pollution and has a small carbon footprint, there are some drawbacks that make it prohibitive to countries that might have such geothermal sources.
- There could be potential emissions of greenhouse gases that include sulfur dioxide and silica emissions that can be released into the atmosphere.
- The construction of geothermal power plants can affect the stability of the land and in rare cases, trigger an earthquake.
- There are heavy upfront costs that are associated with both geothermal power plants and the internal cooling system that has to be considered. In fact, it could cost anywhere between $2 – $7 million for a 1 MW geothermal power plant.
- Geothermal power plants are usually located far away from cities and major power-grids, this could cause prohibitive distribution cost that could trickle down to the consumers and raise electricity prices for all.
Believing In Green Energy
While Singapore can’t adopt wind geothermal energy, we are strong advocates of going green and even you today as a resident can help do your part!
At iSwitch if you sign up online all of our energy plans are green energy, that means the electricity you purchase from iSwitch has zero environmental impact and is completely 100% carbon neutral!
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