Sunday, September 13, 2009

Geothermal energy - How to use

Using geothermal energy has very long tradition in human history. For instance people in ancient times have used geothermal energy for hot springs, cooking, bathing and heating purposes. Basically there are three primary ways to use geothermal energy:
  • The heat from the Earth could be used directly for heating systems in houses or buildings. The hot water close to the Earth's surface can be directly pumped into heating systems ensuring adequate supply.
  • Generators in power plants require steam at extreme temperatures to operate. Therefore geothermal power plants are built near reservoirs to ensure better efficiency. Geothermal power plants use steam or hot water close to the surface to increase efficiency of standard thermal power plant, and this is how electricity is generated.
  • Geothermal heat pumps are also used in exploiting geothermal energy. These pumps use water near the Earth's surface to control building temperatures.
Geothermal heat pump system. Click on the picture for detailed view.

Country that uses geothermal energy the most is Iceland. For instance in Reykjavik, Iceland's capital, 95 percent of the buildings is heated with geothermal district heating systems. Of course this can't be achieved anywhere in the world and Iceland is really using tremendous geothermal energy potential to ensure enough heat for both households, as well as buildings and industries.

Geothermal energy overview:
1. Geothermal energy - Quick overview (previous)
2. Geothermal energy - How to use (current)
3. Geothermal energy - Advantages and disadvantages (next)
4. Geothermal energy - Technology and power plants

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