Geothermal Energy as a Renewable Energy Source
“Geothermal energy is a remnant heat derived from the foundation of the planet 4.5 billion years ago, as well as heat from the radioactive decay of naturally occurring unstable isotopes” (Glassley, 2010, p.43). This type of energy is considered renewable because it produces extremely small amounts of greenhouse gases, which is threatening to the Earth. Geothermal energy can be used for various reasons such as heating and cooling buildings, heating pumps, and even generating electricity to power plants. Egg and Howard (1976) found that “Geothermal heat pumps have been around since 1912, and received a considerable amount of studies in the 1940s by Edison Electric Institute” (p.7). Economically geothermal can both positively and negatively affect the environment. In the long run geothermal energy may one day grow to become a booming form of renewable energy.
Geothermal energy is a product that occurs when radioactive decay of minerals in volcanic eruptions and solar energy are digested, and stored in the Earth's surface. Thermal energy is produced from the continuous conduction of heat that emanates from the Earth's core then moves upward to the surface (Watson, 1996).There are a myriad of ways to obtain geothermal energy, but the three main processes are called Flash Steam, Dry Steam, and Binary Cycle. Flash Steam occurs when water pressures exceed 350˚F, and then is extracted under extremely high pressures by flash steam plants, which then starts to resurface and flash off as steam. This flash of steam then acts as in operator. The extracted steam and water are reintroduced into a geothermal reservoir, thus producing energy. Dry Steam is extracted directly from the Earth’s surface by dry steam plants to operate as a generator. This steam then condenses into water and is reintroduced into the reservoir (1996).
A geothermal heat pump functions similarly to a conventional heat pump, by using high pressure refrigerant to capture and move heat between indoors and out. It is basically an indoor heat pump that uses the basic refrigeration cycle of, evaporation, compression, condensation, and expansion, in order to capture and disburse heat from and to the ground to warm or cool a house (Alexzander, 2011). The main difference between the two is that, conventional systems gather their heat and get rid of it through the outside air. Geothermal systems, in contrast, transfer heat through long loops of liquid-filled pipe buried underneath the ground (2011). This form of heat pump has many benefits compared to the conventional heat pump. The loud noise you hear outside whenever you’re A/C turns on will disappear, and cuts home heating and cooling bills by 50 percent.
There are many positive reasons as to why geothermal energy is a great form of renewable energy source. Geothermal power plants usually require less...