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Publication Name: Geothermal Power Station
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Geothermal Power Station


Geothermal Power Stations

Lucien Y. Bronicki, Chairman


I.. Introduction

II. Current Geothermal Energy Utilization

III. Current Uses and Commercial Status

IV. The Ultimate Potential

V. Ecological and Enviornmental



Binary geothermal power plant: A power plant in which the geothermal fluid provides the heat required by the organic working fluid.

Direct heat use: Utilization of low- and moderate- temperature geothermal resources for space and water heating, for industrial processes and agricultural applications.

Energy conversion: Conversion of one type of energy to another such as the heat of a geothermal resource to electricity, etc.

Geothermal combined cycle: Combined use of geothermal steam and brine for power generation by using a back-pressure steam turbine and organic turbines.

Geothermal energy: Totally or partially renewable heat energy from deep in the earth. It originates from the earth’s molten interior and the decay of radioactive materials. It is brought near to the surface by deep circulation of ground water.

Geothermal heat pump (GMP): Application using the earth as a heat source for heating or as a heat sink for cooling

Geothermal resources: The four types of geothermal resources are hydrothermal, geopressured, hot dry rock (HDR) and magma. All are suitable for heat extraction and electric power generation.

Hydrothermal resources: Geothermal resources containing hot water and/or steam dropped in AfreaacstuwrehdereorGpeotrhoeurms arol Pckrosjeacttsshaarellionwopteoramtionderate depths. Categorized as vapor-dominated (steam)

or liquid dominated (hot water). These are the only commercially used resources at the present time.

Organic Rankine cycle (ORC): A cycle using an organic liquid as motive fluid (instead of water) in a Rankine cycle.

Renewable energy: Energy, which is not exhausted by use with time. Renewable energies include direct solar energy, geothermal sources, wind, hydroelectric plants, etc.


A. Source of Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is renewable heat energy from deep in the earth. It originates from the earth’s molten interior and the decay of radioactive

FIGURE 1. A representative geothermal reservoir. [From Nemzer, M. (2000). Geothermal Education Office, web site]

materials; heat is brought near to the surface by deep circulation of groundwater and by intrusion into the earth’s crust of molten magma originating from great depth (see Figure 1). In some places this heat comes to the surface in natural streams of hot steam or water, which have been used since prehistoric times for bathing and cooking. By drilling wells this heat can be tapped from the underground reservoirs to supply pools, homes, greenhouses, and power plants.

The quantity of this heat energy is enormous; it has been estimated that over the course of a year, the equivalent of more than 100 million GWh of heat energy is conducted from the earth’s interior to the surface. But geothermal energy tends to be relatively diffuse, a phenomenon which makes it difficult to tap. If it were not for the fact that the earth itself concentrates geothermal heat in certain regions (typically regions associated with the boundaries of tectonic plates in the earth’s crust, see Figure 2), geothermal energy would be essentially useless as a heat source or a source of electricity using today’s technology.

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 Supercritical Fluid Extraction Geothermal Power Station Page 001
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