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How Does Geothermal Energy Work?

The Secrets Behind the Natural Energy Source

geothermal energy

As a society, we’ve successfully used the wind, the sun, and water to create power, but what many don’t know is we can also use the Earth itself. We know that wind and hydroelectric power are both created from moving elements, and that solar power is created from rays of heat, so it makes you wonder – how do we get power from the ground?

Way below the Earth’s crust is a layer of molten rock called “magma” that produces heat, and in areas below the surface where there are active or young volcanoes (called “hot spots”), the temperatures are even hotter. To access this heat, power plants take advantage of a natural process of “hydrothermal convection,” which is when water seeps into the Earth’s crust, heats up, and then rises back to the surface and produces steam. These power plants can use three different methods to harness the steam: dry steam, binary cycle, and flash steam

Dry Steam

The dry steam method is the simplest way of converting heat to energy. When a turbine is drilled into rock layers, it draws steam directly from the layers into a generator that produces electricity.

Flash Steam

The flash steam method is the most commonly used method today. A turbine drilled into the rock layers draws hot water into a pressurizer. This pressurizer then creates steam to use for electricity and expels the extra water back down into the Earth.

Binary Cycle

The binary cycle is the most complicated process used to produce energy, but doesn’t require the water to be as hot as the dry steam or flash steam methods. In this process, the water from the Earth never actually comes in contact with the turbine. Instead, the hot water is used to heat another liquid (like isobutane) that can produce steam at a lower temperature than the water. The steam from the other liquid is then used for electricity.

When it comes to heating your home, you don’t need a power plant to produce energy. The milder heat that can be found 10 to a few hundred feet below the Earth’s surface in any area is enough to give you electricity.

If you’re interested in investing in a geothermal heating and cooling installation, click here to learn more or contact Timothy Off today!

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