Harnessing Heat From the Earth

A new project is steaming along.

Harnessing Heat From the Earth | A new project is steaming along.

In Iceland, homes, offices, and greenhouses are heated from geothermic energy that is harnessed from steam and hot water that was generated by the many volcanos in this land of fire and ice. Most of the world does not have a supply of volcanos available but geothermal heat can be found almost  anywhere.

 In the UK, where renewable energy is now generating more than 40 percent of electricity, reported CGTN, most of it comes from wind turbines and solar panels. But now, a deep well geothermal project near Cornwell, will be soon be exporting energy to the grid.

What is geothermal energy?
Geothermal energy is best described as the heat within the earth, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). In fact, the word geothermal comes from the Greek words for Earth and heat.

The energy produced has long been used for heating buildings and recently to produce electricity. Because the heat is continuously produced under the crust of the Earth, it is considered renewable energy. The deeper you go –  the hotter the temperatures – the more power will be produced.

The United Downs project
Geothermal energy is already being used in the UK  to provide heat for high profile buildings in London including the City Hall and the Royal Festival Hall, according to Positive News. There are also other shallow geothermal projects in the UK that go from 25m to 5.2 kms below the surface.

The United Downs project located near Cornwell is the first deep well geothermal plant in the UK. Still in the final testing stage, it will produce 3MWe of electricity that could power 7,000 homes. The production well is 5,275m deep.

Electricity will be produced by pumping the super-hot water up from the well and converted into electricity at the surface in a steam-powered turbine. The left-over heat will be captures and then will be used  in nearby homes and businesses and will eventually be sent back down into the Earth.

“There are only two things we need for geothermal power generation,” Dr Ryan Law, founder and managing director of Cornwall-based Geothermal Engineering told Positive News. “One is temperature; the other is flow of water.”

The project has other benefits too. “These plants are not just about electricity,” said Law. “There’s a whole industry that develops around them. [including], the sale of heat for industrial processes or agriculture, or mineral extraction from geothermal fluids.”

The project is expected to be on line in 2023 but unlike other renewables, there won’t be much to see. No towering wind farms, or solar panels will dot the landscape. And unlike the more visible renewables, it will operate day and night, windy or calm, and in all weather conditions. Geothermal energy  will supplement other renewable sources to help the UK go to 100 percent clean energy. That’s an energy source worth exploring around the globe.

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