We could generate power for decades and even centuries" Australian Geographic Beneath the surface of the earth lies a huge treasure of earth's deposit.
It is not gold, silver, precious stones or oil.
It is the tremendous store of heat called GEOTHERMAL ENERGY.
The temperatures deep inside the earth are in the order of hundreds and even thousands of degrees Celsius.
The amount of heat conducted to the earth's surface from this interim in one year is thought to equal some 100 billions megawatts hours of energy and many times the electrical power used world wide; an astounding amount of energy indeed.
Much of this heat is stored in underground layers of molten rock, or magma.
Harnessing this treasure, though, is a challenge.
However, the earth's heat is indeed a treasure because it is a clean source of energy that offers distinct advantage over oil, coal, natural gas, and nuclear power.
The greater concentration of this heat lies under the earth's crust in a layer called the mantle.
The average thickness of the crust ids said to be about 35 kilometers.
This is much deeper than the drilling capacity of present technology.
These crusts, however, is made up of a good number of plates and is thinner at certain places, especially where the plates meet.
The magma at the locations is said to be able to rise closer to the earth's surface and the heat the water trapped in the rock layers.
This water is usually only two to three kilometers below the surface of the ground, well within the reach of modern drilling techniques.
It can be mined and put to good use.
To mine or tap this heat, heat pumps are connected to loops of piping buried in the grounds.
The energy is thus gathered and can be used to heat homes in the wintertime or perform other useful works.
Usually, water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.
However, pressures are much higher underground, and water remains liquid at higher temperatures.
The boiling point of water remains increases to about 230, 315, and 600 degrees Celsius at the depth of 300 1525, and 300 meters respectively.
During the drilling process, where the drilling taps into water that is above 175 degrees, the water can be used to drive electrical generators.
A lot have been said or have to be said about geothermal energy and its impact on environment.
One striking thing about it is the fact that countries that develop power from it reduce their dependence on oil.
Take for example, every ten megawatts of electricity generated for a year represents a savings of 140, 000 barrels of crude oil per annum.
Equally, geothermal resources are immense, and the dangers of depletion are much less than it is with many other energy sources.
Pollution problems are greatly reduced.
In addition, geothermal energy production costs are very much at a low side compared with those of many other energy forms.
In spite of all these positive notes, there are some environment concerns.
Geothermal steams usually contain hydrogen sulfides, a toxic.
This is quite a lethal toxic when much in high quantity and equally a nuisance in low quantities because of its uncomfortable sulfurous smells.
However, unlike the other energy sources such as fossil fuels in particular, treatment processes for removing it are effective and more efficient than emission control systems at fossil -fuel power plants.
Even at that, particulates in the effluent may contain small amounts of arsenic or other toxic substances.
Happily, when these particulates are collected and reinjected into the ground, the danger is kept to a minimum.
Another negative side ids the possibility of contamination of underground water supplies, this though can result only when and if the geothermal wells have not been sealed to great depth with steel casings and cement.
Above all, one is quick to note that the sitting of most geothermal power plants is only noticeable by the steams vented from the power plant.
With careful management, geothermal power can co-exist with people, animals, plants, and the environment.
Most geothermal power plants are installed using only high- temperature steam for power generators.
However, efforts are in top gear to extract energy from fluids that are less than 200 degrees Celsius.
As a result, binary -cycle technology has been developed.
This uses tapped hot fluids to vaporize a secondary fluid, which in turn drives a turbine/generator set.
All countries living in areas of recent volcanic activity or dormant hot springs sources are enjoined to tap into these earth treasures to save our planet earth from the deadly effects of fossil fuels and make the earth a GREEN place to live in.