Uses of geothermal energy

different uses of geothermal energy

Renewable energies are undoubtedly the future in the medium and long term, and other types of energy must be sought to replace the depleted fossil reserves. A combination of different types of interests may be the reason for this disruption in energy investment today. One of the energies that is attracting the most attention is geothermal energy. However, many people do not know what the different uses of geothermal energy.

For this reason, we are going to dedicate this article to telling you about the main uses of geothermal energy, its characteristics and importance.

Features and operation

uses of geothermal energy

One of the most widely used renewable energy sources in Europe is geothermal energy. It is defined as “energy produced by geological sources of heat”.

Geothermal energy can also be considered as an alternative and renewable energy source if the assessment is relatively quick. This is because continued extraction from geothermal sources can locally cause a reassessment of thermal outliers around the extraction site, rendering the energy source no longer renewable. This exception is local and depends on the highly variable development time of the resource, depending on the site.

This type of energy is based on the principle of geothermal energy, or the use of the natural heat of the earth (the word geothermal derives its etymology from the Greek "GE" and "thermos", which literally means "heat of the earth") . This heat is released naturally by the nuclear decay process of radioactive elements in the Earth's core, mantle, and crust. Some of these elements are uranium, thorium and potassium, which are actually found in the deepest parts of our planet.

Inside the Earth, the core is an igneous substance that radiates heat from the inside to the outside, so the temperature It increases between 2 and 4 ºC every 100 meters as we go deeper into the Earth.

But the interior of the Earth is made up of different layers, and reaches a depth sufficient for the water to heat up, and undergo a change of state, becoming water vapor, which comes to the surface at high pressure, either in the form of jets or hot springs.

The geothermal energy production potential (60 mW/m²) is much lower than that of the sun (approximately 340 W/m²). In some places, however, this potential heat reaches 200 mW/m² and generates heat accumulation in aquifers that can be exploited industrially. The extraction rate is always greater than the heat flux contribution, and care must be taken not to over-densify the extraction area, which will take decades or centuries to recover. Drilling costs increase rapidly with depth.

Low-temperature geothermal energy (50 to 100°C) is mainly used for heating, through thermal networks, and less frequently to heat greenhouses or aquaculture. In 1995, global thermal capacity was 4,1 GW. It can also refer to the use of geothermal heat pumps, which use shallow groundwater or "geothermal probes," drilled 50 to 100 meters, to recover enough calories from the ground to heat a room.

With the onset of the oil crisis, global interest in geothermal energy has grown, and its use as a source of electrical energy is growing at an annual rate of around 9%.

Uses of geothermal energy

disadvantages of renewables

Geothermal energy is used in many ways, as this renewable energy source allows us to generate heat, electricity or hot water. For it, we must always choose the right location for installation, taking advantage of the best conditions that allow us to meet our needs.

The main uses of geothermal energy include home and professional use. They are the following:

  • Heating: With geothermal energy, heat can be extracted from the interior of the earth and converted into the air conditioning system of a room through emission systems such as underfloor heating.
  • Hot water: can also be used for domestic hot water, use a water storage thermos
  • Electricity: Only using high temperature sediments above 150º can electricity be generated through geothermal energy

In addition to its primary uses, geothermal energy has other uses such as:

  • Drying of products, mainly for agricultural companies
  • Cleaning and feeding of different hydraulic systems
  • Sterilization of different materials.
  • salt extraction
  • Evaporation and distillation of liquids.
  • Aquaculture and fish farms
  • Cooling, using concrete medium
  • Use of thermal waters for sanitary and medicinal purposes

Uses of geothermal energy at home

types of geothermal energy

Knowing the energy that can be obtained from the heat of the subsoil as one of the renewable sources, it is essential to understand the ways in which we can take advantage of it without resorting to other more artificial sources and, of course, respect the natural warmth of the earth.

A very effective and increasingly popular method, especially in new construction, is to build homes with underfloor heating, sheets that allow you to walk around the house barefoot as it dissipates heat. Of course, these floors are not inherently so, or they are made of a product that emits heat, but of a heat pump to distribute the heat to them.

A heat pump is one that connects our house to geothermal energy. Thanks to it we achieve an exchange of air or temperature so that it absorbs the cold on one side and expels the heat from the interior of the earth, from the underground areas. In this way, by means of a pump, andIt is possible to regulate the underground heat management of the entire house, saving heating since it is based on natural and ecological heat.

Unlike other heat pumps, these are reversible. You can change its position or turn it off so that it stops extracting heat from the subsoil, as it does in summer and where you don't need as much heat. And this pump doesn't use the energy it produces to generate more heat, but the energy it uses to distribute and drive it where it's needed.

To place the heat pump, when building the house, the floor must be raised, installed, and then the radiant floor installed. In the case of new construction, it can be installed in three different ways:

  • Vertical Geothermal: It is a hydraulic system responsible for exchanging heat with the subsoil. It is about trying a tube of tens of meters to get to where the depth and the heat are.
  • Horizontal geothermal: it requires more space because it is not plugged in, it is mostly underground, but it has to occupy the entire width of the house, so although it is cheaper, it does require more space, despite the fact that the house generates an area, not that big.
  • Geothermal under the foundations: this would be ideal, but it must be planned, even before construction, before laying the foundations, so that when the pipes that communicate with the subsoil are laid, a hydraulic pump can be installed that will take care of more optimal heat distribution.

There is no doubt that having geothermal energy at home, not only to heat the house but also to power different facilities, saves us a lot of electricity every month. But the only drawback is that its installation, especially before placing the base, as in the case of installation under foundations, is very expensive. The initial investment is quite large, especially if you are building a house from scratch. The most affordable have underfloor heating, which gives us the benefits of geothermal but promises a little less.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the different uses of geothermal energy and its characteristics.

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