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Geothermal power
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected fromGeothermal power plant)Jump to:navigation, search
 
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Geothermal
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Geothermal power
(from the Greek roots
 geo
, meaning earth, and
thermos
, meaningheat) is power extracted from heat stored in the earth. Thisgeothermal energyoriginates from the original formation of the planet, fromradioactive decay of minerals, and from solar energy absorbed at the surface. It has been used for bathing sincePaleolithic times and for space heating since ancient Roman times, but is now better known for generating electricity. Worldwide, geothermal plants have the capacity to generate about 10gigawattsof electricity as of 2007, and in practice supply 0.3% of global electricitydemand. An additional 28 gigawatts of directgeothermal heating capacity is installed for 
 
district heating, space heating, spas, industrial processes, desalination and agriculturalapplications.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 viableresources, especially for applications such as home heating, opening a potential for widespread exploitation. Geothermal wells release greenhouse gases trapped deep withinthe earth, but these emissions are much lower per energy unit than those of fossil fuels.As a result, geothermal power has the potential to help mitigateglobal warmingif widelydeployed in place of fossil fuels.The Earth's geothermal resources are theoretically more than adequate to supplyhumanity's energy needs, but only a very small fraction of it may be profitably exploited.Drilling and exploration for deep resources costs tens of millions of dollars, and successis not guaranteed. Forecasts for the future penetration of geothermal power depend onassumptions about technology growth, the price of energy, subsidies, and interest rates.
Contents
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Electricity
Geothermal electric power plants have been limited to the edges of tectonic platesuntilrecently.
 
Main article:Geothermal electricityTwenty-four countries generated a total of 56,786 gigawatt-hours (GW·h) (204 PJ) of electricity from geothermal power in 2005, accounting for 0.3% of worldwide electricityconsumption.
Output is growing by 3% annually, keeping pace with global electricitygeneration from all sources.
Growth is being achieved through a growing number of  plants as well as improvements in their capacity factors.
Because geothermal power does not rely on variable sources of energy, unlike, for example, wind or solar, itscapacity factor can be quite large—up to 96% has been demonstrated.
The globalaverage was 73% in 2005. The global installed capacity was 10gigawatts (GW) in 2007.
The largest group of geothermal  power plants in the world is located at The Geysers, a geothermal field inCalifornia,United States.
As of 2004, five countries (El Salvador ,Kenya, the Philippines,Iceland,and Costa Rica
 
) generate more than 15% of their electricity from geothermal sources.
Geothermal electric plants have until recently been built exclusively on the edges of tectonic plates where high temperature geothermal resources are available near thesurface. The development of  binary cycle power plantsand improvements in drilling andextraction technology may enableenhanced geothermal systemsover a much greater geographical range.
Demonstration projects are operational inLandau-Pfalz, Germany,and Soultz-sous-Forêts, France, while an earlier effort in Basel,Switzerland was shut down after it triggered earthquakes. Other demonstration projects are under constructioninAustralia, theUnited Kingdom, and theUnited States of America.
Direct application
Main articles:Geothermal heating and geothermal heat pump Approximately 70 countries made direct use of a total of 270  petajoules (PJ) of  geothermal heating in 2004. More than half of this energy was used for space heating,and another third for heated pools. The remainder supported industrial and agriculturalapplications. The global installed capacity was 28 GW, but capacity factors tend to below (30% on average) since heat is mostly needed in the winter. The above figures aredominated by 88 PJ of space heating extracted by an estimated 1.3 milliongeothermalheat pumpswith a total capacity of 15 GW.
Heat pumps are the fastest-growing meansof exploiting geothermal energy, with a global annual growth rate of 30% in energy production.
Most of these new heat pumps are being installed for home heating.Direct heating in all its forms is far more efficient than electricity generation and placesless demanding temperature requirements on the heat resource. Heat may come fromco-generationwith a geothermal electrical plant or from smaller wells or heat exchangers buried in shallow ground. As a result, geothermal heating is economic over a muchgreater geographical range than geothermal electricity. Where naturalhot springsareavailable, the heated water can be piped directly intoradiators. If the ground is hot but

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