Geothermal, the word has been derived from two words ‘geo’ and ‘thermal’. Geo refers to the earth, while thermal is related to heat. Therefore, geothermal energy is the heat or the thermal energy extracted from the earth. The radioactive decay and the late heavy bombardment period is responsible for the development and confinement of heat into the earth’s core. The earth’s core is estimated to be present about 6,427 km below the ground and has a temperature of about 4200 degrees Celcius. Since the earth is located in a free space that serves to be a vacuum, the cooling down of this trapped heat energy will take a lot of time. Therefore, ensuring energy generation for billions of years. Geothermal energy can be extracted from solid rocks or from molten magma. It is a reliable, renewable, and clean source of energy generation. Geothermal energy has a minimum contribution to air pollution because it does not involve any combustion of fossil fuels. Therefore, no toxic gases are released into the environment. In comparison to other sources of energy generation, geothermal energy produces 6 times less carbon dioxide into the environment. However, greenhouse emissions, adverse environmental effects, generation setup cost, etc. are some of the disadvantages of using geothermal energy. The depletion of geothermal energy is unpredictable, hence it is considered as one of the greatest disadvantages. Geothermal energy has great potential and is considered to be a technology of the future. Hence, it guarantees employment generation and development of the nation.
1. Geothermal Heated Homes
Geothermal energy finds its prime application in heating homes. An ideal geothermal heat pump is connected to a large system of coils that extracts the heat from the ground. This heat is then circulated inside the home with the help of traditional ducts. This system is established in such a way that this process can be modified according to the seasons. During summers, this large system of coils is filled with water and an antifreeze solution. The heat present inside a house is transferred to the earth, thereby cooling down the environment inside the house.
2. Geothermal Power Plants
Thermal energy present beneath the earth’s surface can be used to generate electricity. Geothermal power systems make use of steam from the earth to generate electrical energy. This steam is used to rotate the turbines at a high speed. Setting these turbines in motion, i.e. after causing the turbines to develop mechanical energy, the mechanical energy is fed to the electricity generation system. The electricity generating system mainly comprises a generator, which converts mechanical energy into electrical energy with the help of electromagnetic induction. This process is very reliable and eco-friendly as it does not release any toxic or carbon-rich gases into the environment. Also, it does not leave any residue behind. Therefore, there exists no land pollution, which further avoids waste management. Geothermal energy is advantageous as it provides consistency, stability, and renewability.
3. Hot Springs
There are a number of natural hot springs present on the earth. Hot springs are formed when the water present underground comes in contact with a hot rock. The water gets heated up and geological heat emerges out. These springs serve to be places of great interest to the tourists. Therefore, geothermal energy can be used to generate economic benefits and to generate employment for the youth. Hot springs are one of the most easily accessible applications of geothermal energy. People often take a bath in hot springs as recreational activities. The only inconvenience is the pungent smell of sulfur present in or near an open hot spring.
4. Geothermal Geysers
Geothermal geysers are very much similar to geothermal hot springs. The only difference is that in a geothermal geyser the water flows in the form of a vertical column that is several feet high. The most popular geothermal geyser is known as Old Faithful located in Yellowstone National Park in the United States. The Old Faithful geyser erupts every 60-90 minutes. The requirements for the existence of a geothermal geyser are a water source present under the earth’s surface, a vent present on the surface of the earth, and hot underground rocks.
5. Green Houses
If a lake is present near a greenhouse, it is of most important use. A heating coil network is established under the lake, and the water is added with the anti-freezing solution. The steam or the gas generated due to this internal heat is then fed to the greenhouses. This heat produced by the earth is responsible for the maintenance of temperature inside the greenhouse. The main requirements of a greenhouse are proper heat and temperature, both of which are easily supplied by employing geothermal energy.
When the water present underground comes in contact with hot rock or magma, it gets heated up and emerges out through a vent. This vent is called a fumarole. Fumaroles can be formed when there exists a crack or opening on the surface of the earth. Therefore, a fumarole is basically an opening near a volcano or hot spring. This is yet another example of geothermal energy as the heat or the thermal energy required for the generation of a fumarole is extracted from the earth’s surface only. The extraction of heat energy, however, does not require any pump because it follows a natural process of genesis. Hence, it is directly accessible and only requires a little modification. The disadvantage is that sometimes fumaroles arbitrarily go missing. However, they might reappear as per the earth’s self clock. Hence, causes instability to properly utilize energy.
Health and wellness related activities make use of geothermal energy. Spas and other related services make use of hot springs and fumaroles to generate heat and steam. Geothermal energy has been used in this manner for a long time. This method serves to be an inexpensive, natural, and effective way to achieve personal care benefits. A geothermal opening present near a spa serves to be the greatest asset because it is an infinitely available and easily accessible source of energy.