EnergyNatural ResourcesWorld

What is Geothermal Energy & How do Geothermal Energy Work


Geothermal energy is heat energy that originates from the ground.

Geothermal resources are hot water reservoirs that are naturally occurring or artificially created at various temperatures and depths below the surface of the Earth.

In order to access steam and extremely hot water that may be brought to the surface for use in a number of purposes, including the production of electricity, direct usage, and heating and cooling, wells can be bored into subterranean reservoirs that are anywhere from a few feet to several miles deep.

The western states of the United States have the most geothermal reservoirs.

Also Read: Nuclear energy: Africa’s Untapped Nuclear Potential & Energy Resource

What is the Use?

In certain nations, it has been utilized for heating systems and cooking for thousands of years.

Electricity production and other heating and cooling uses may be made of the heated water and steam stored in subterranean geothermal reservoirs.

The installation of a geothermal heat pump about 10 feet underground is one instance of heating and cooling at a consistent temperature.

These pipelines are stocked with either water or antifreeze. The closed loop of pipes is pumped with water.

These ground source heat pump systems aid in the summertime heating and cooling of buildings. This happens as the water and steam return to the structure and absorbs heat from the soil.

The geothermal water has been utilized for district heating in homes and businesses and to assist with greenhouse plant growth. To melt snow, it can also be pumped beneath roadways.

How is Geothermal energy created?

To access the geothermal resources, wells up to a mile deep or more are dug into subterranean reservoirs.

These resources can be obtained through improved geothermal systems, which increase or develop geothermal resources through a procedure known as hydraulic stimulation, or from naturally occurring heat, rock, and water permeability.

Whether they are upgraded or natural, these geothermal resources power turbines that are connected to electrical generators.

In Larderello, Italy, in 1904, geothermal heat was exploited for the first time to create electricity. However, bathing has been done using geothermal heat ever since the Paleolithic period.

It has also been demonstrated that monkeys in Japan utilize hot spring water that has been heated to stay warm during the colder months in hilly areas.

Also Read: Top 5 Gold Reserves Countries in Africa

Geothermal Energy: How Does It Work?

There are three basic types of geothermal power plants: dry steam, flash, and binary.

The first kind is dry steam, which uses ground fissures as a direct source of steam to power a turbine.

Flash plants blend cooler low-pressure water with hot high-pressure water that is extracted from underground. In turn, this generates steam that powers a turbine.

Binary plants utilize heated water that has been passed through a fluid with a lower boiling point than water as the secondary fluid.

When the secondary fluid is converted to vapor, a turbine is powered. Future geothermal power plants are likely to be binary plants for the most part.

The largest producer in the world is the United States. They are also home to the biggest geothermal development in the world, which is located in California’s The Geysers, to the north of San Francisco.

Although it is called a geyser, there are none there, and all the energy consumed is steam, not hot water.

The first power generation well was sunk in 1924, and further wells were dug in the 1950s and 1970s, respectively.

Other countries, like Iceland, are in a good position to make use of geothermal resources and have done so since 1907.

With 600 hot springs and 25 active volcanoes, 25% of Iceland’s energy is produced by five geothermal power facilities.

Pros and Cons of Geothermal Energy


The primary benefits of geothermal energy as a source of renewable energy are environmental. It only generates a sixth of the carbon dioxide that a clean natural gas power station would emit.

With savings of up to 80% when compared to fossil fuels, geothermal energy is much more affordable than conventional energy.

It is always accessible, unlike other renewable energy sources like sun and wind.


Geothermal has disadvantages despite being reasonably priced, ecologically benign, and sustainable.

First off, only regions close to tectonic plate borders can produce anything. Additionally, after decades of use, some places could cool off.

Drilling and site discovery is expensive, but once a plant is up and running, it is more affordable than fossil fuels. This is partly because drills and other instruments wear out quickly in such hostile conditions.

Hydrogen sulfide, a gas with an odor akin to rotten eggs, may be released by geothermal facilities. Last but not least, certain geothermal fluids include trace amounts of harmful substances that must be disposed of.

Geothermal Energy Benefits

Renewable: For billions of years, the heat emanating from the interior of the Earth will continue to flow as long as radioactive materials in the environment continue to decay.

Baseload: Regardless of the weather, geothermal power plants can run practically continuously for 24 hours, 7 days a week, producing energy.

Without importing fuel, domestic geothermal resources in the United States may be used to generate electricity.

Compact—Geothermal power plants have a small footprint. Compared to comparable-capacity coal (3,642 m2), wind (1,335 m2), and solar photovoltaic (PV) power stations (3,237 m2), they need 404 m2 less land per gigawatt-hour.

Modern closed-loop geothermal power plants are clean because they produce no greenhouse gases and have life-cycle emissions that are four times lower than those of solar PV and six to 20 times lower than those of natural gas. O

ver the course of their energy production, geothermal power plants use on average less water than the majority of conventional electricity-generation technologies**.

Also Read: Countries with World’s Largest Oil Reserves Vs African Countries with Largest Oil Reserves

TWI and geothermal

TWI is well-positioned to utilize this expertise in the field due to our knowledge of coatings and material qualities and our significant experience working in the oil and gas industry.

For instance, TWI’s expertise in wear-resistant polymers offers viable options for drilling for geothermal energy.

Additionally, geothermal projects may directly benefit from our experience in joining as well as our knowledge of structural integrity and integrity management.

TWI has already collaborated on a number of projects with some of the top geothermal technology and energy companies in the world.

Quick Facts about geothermal energy in Africa

Kenya is Africa’s largest producer of geothermal energy. Olkaria Geothermal Spa in Naivasha is Africa’s largest geothermal spa.

Kenya has the world’s largest single-turbine geothermal plant. Geothermal energy is expected to meet 50% of Kenya’s energy needs by 2030.


Geothermal energy is derived from heat in the Earth’s core that was created during the planet’s formation by the radioactive decay of minerals.

This thermal energy may be exploited as a renewable energy source since it is stored in the fluids and rocks at the Earth’s core.

Geothermal energy has the advantage of always being accessible, unlike resources like solar and wind, and is also more affordable than many alternatives.

The majority of Africa’s geothermal energy is produced in Kenya. The largest geothermal spa in Africa is located in Naivasha in Olkaria.

The largest single-turbine geothermal facility in the world is located in Kenya. By 2030, geothermal energy is anticipated to provide 50% of Kenya’s energy requirements.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button