science

definition of geothermal energy

Geothermal energy is that obtained from volcanic activity or the movement of Earth's plates. From these places it is possible to obtain hot water close to the earth's surface and from there it is possible to generate electricity. The production of electricity is carried out through a series of steps:

1) extraction of steam or hot water that comes from a geothermal reservoir located hundreds of meters below the Earth's surface,

2) the steam reaches the surface by means of a turbine connected to a generator, which converts the steam into electricity and

3) After the steam has passed through the turbine, the steam is cooled and transformed into water, which is reinjected into the geothermal reserve so that the same cycle can be restarted again.

Geothermal energy is that which the Earth transmits from its inner layers to the outermost part of the earth's crust.

As the interior of the earth's crust deepens, the temperature of the Earth increases gradually and the manifestation of geothermal energy occurs naturally in the form of geysers, fumaroles, hot springs or volcanoes.

The objective of this energy source is to take advantage of the heat energy from the interior of the Earth. For this, geothermal deposits are exploited, that is, the spaces of the earth's crust in which permeable materials are located that retain water and transmit their heat to it.

Geothermal energy is considered a renewable energy, as is the case with hydroelectric, solar, wind or biomass energy.

Advantages of geothermal energy

Geothermal projects preserve the environment and provide a local source of electricity and heating in some remote locations. A geothermal plant uses a very small area of ​​land, so it generates less landscape impact. On the other hand, these plants do not emit gases, only water vapor. Furthermore, they do not use fuel to generate electricity.

Likewise, they do not affect surface manifestations (such as geysers or fumaroles) but they only help to identify geothermal resources. Finally, it must be taken into account that the solid covers of the production wells prevent contamination in the groundwater.

Examples of geothermal energy in the world

An example of this energy modality can be found in Iceland, a country in which most homes are heated through geothermal energy. In Europe and the United States this energy is used for the conditioning of greenhouses during the winter. In some Asian countries, for example Japan, it is used as an alternative to nuclear power plants.

Photos: iStock - carstenbrandt