A Complete Guide On Geothermal Power Plants

The earth’s core is one of the most fascinating elements and is referred to as the “bed of secrets.” Each time you try to find something new, you are mesmerized with the number of powerful resources the earth has within. The earth is known to be a tremendous powerhouse. That is why the heat from below can be accessed and used in various forms. The earth’s depth is filled with rich minerals, oil, and gas, which can be used for the production of multiple forms of energy. Concerning productivity levels, geothermal energy is one of the underlying energy sources that are related to the earth’s core.

The basics:

Geo and thermal are two different words, where “geo” refers to the earth, and “thermal” refers to the heat. Thus, it is said that geothermal energy is highly profitable in terms of manufacturing and production. The heat is extracted from the core with the help of drilling machines, much like the extraction of oil. This is where comes the utility of a geothermal power plant comes in. Manual labor cannot be present in the drilling of the earth’s heat. The geothermal power plants are invested with the possibility of drilling the whole earth’s steam from under the surface, making it easier to start the energy production.

Geothermal Plant
Geothermal Plant

Therefore, in answering the question,” what is geothermal power plant?”, the simple answer can be the industry responsible for the production of geothermal energy. These plants cannot be set near residential spaces and require extensive land for setup.

The types of geothermal plants:

The geothermal power plant has many variants. It depends on the level of reaching the earth’s core, and its subsequent extraction. The water used to receive the heat from the surface of the planet is adjusted with the help of turbines. Therefore, a geothermal power plant is also responsible for storing the energy generated in a condenser, which is then cooled off and distributed to other industrial sectors.

Therefore, according to the norms set up by the IEA or the International Energy Agency, the geothermal energy is said to have five different sources.

These are all related to the earth’s surface, and are as follows:

  • The dry form of steam
  • Hot steam
  • Magma
  • A mixture of earth’s steam and hot water
  • Dry rocks

Thus, the type of geothermal power plant set up tries to use any one of the above sources to create geothermal energy. On that note, the types of geothermal power plants, using various methods for the production of energy, are as follows:

  • The indirect method

In this process, water steam is used by the plant, and the pressure is adjusted for production. The temperature stays stable at 180 degrees Celsius, which makes it possible to use the steam without any hassle. Now, the steam is made to pass through a turbine, where the water cools it off. Once the pressure decreases, the water becomes steam, and the energy generated, is stored. This mechanism continues, resulting in completing the energy production and supplying chain.

Indirect Method
Indirect Method
  • Mixed method

This method involves the use of water, as well as hot steam. The installation of a binary machine makes it possible for all sorts of geothermal power plants to produce thermal energy. The emissions are less in this case, as a lower temperature is used for production.

  • Direct method

In the case of geothermal power plants using the direct method, the dry steam is extracted from the earth’s core and used for energy production. This is the most common process that all thermal power plants adopt for energy production!

Direct Method
Direct Method / Source

A brief note on setting up the geothermal plant: Its average cost:

The cost to build a geothermal power plant and set it up is a colossal investment procedure. These plants are known to generate huge volumes of energy, thereby adding to the advantage of less stress on natural oil and gas. Furthermore, the extraction of heat is a robust process, and professional machinery and drilling machines are required to do so. This further increases the cost of setting up even a small geothermal power plant.

Based on the construction process, the geothermal power plant cost can go up to millions of dollars. In addition to that, if the investment is made in the right manner, the cost can be further reduced. Therefore, planning is a massive aspect of setting up a geothermal power plant in a faraway distant industrial land.

The pros and cons of a geothermal plant:

A geothermal energy power plant is set up to offer some serious advantages. These are as follows:

The pros:

  • Geothermal energy production is comparatively cleaner

Green Geothermal Energy
Green Geothermal Energy

One of the most significant benefits associated with the setup of a geothermal power plant is that the energy produced is clean, and has less environmental impacts. In other words, the amount of harmful gases released into the atmosphere, is far less, in comparison to other industrial sectors.

The energy produced is in tune with the ecological balance of the earth, and there are no harmful effects noticed as well. Even the emission of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere amounts to only 5%, in comparison to that of coal production industries.

  • Stability in prices

Stability In Prices
Stability In Prices

There is stability in prices noticed, as geothermal energy is related to the use of less fuel, which makes electricity costs lesser. Although the overall usage of geothermal power varies in the market, the price is comparatively less. On the other hand, using coal will make you spend more money. Therefore, you can celebrate the production of electricity and geothermal power, since the prices are stabilized.

  • The greater capacity of energy

Geothermal power plants are known to generate a high capacity of energy on a daily basis. The production can be increased to five times to that of a simple coal plant. Therefore, the amount of energy generated improves the overall profits of the industry as well.

Geothermal Power Plants
Geothermal Power Plants
  • Renewable

Geothermal energy is renewable energy. Therefore, the entire geothermal power plant lives up to the conditions of causing no pollution, thereby staying sustainable. There is no waste of energy noticed either. As long as heat can be extracted from the surface of the earth, geothermal plants will definitely continue with production!

  • Lower costs of operation

In comparison to coal and other mining industries, geothermal power plants have lesser costs of operation. The energy produced is also safe to use and doesn’t even harm the environment. Thus, expenses related to maintenance and even buying of machinery is more or less cheap, and the machines can sustain years of production!

Lower Costs Of Operation
Lower Costs Of Operation
  • Permanent service

When it comes to the power supply, nothing can be more advantageous can knowing that geothermal power plants can supply power non-stop. The heat from the earth can be extracted all days of the year, without any limitations. This means that the production of geothermal power never stops. When compared to the installation of solar panels and other industries, the service is provided smoothly all throughout the year. That is why; a geothermal plant keeps on continuing its operations, as long as it receives proper raw materials from the earth’s core!

  • The area occupied is small

One of the significant advantages that reflect the positivity of a geothermal power plant is the total amount of space that is filled. Geothermal power plants need to be established in small areas only. The larger the area, the more damaging the extraction procedure can be. Therefore, it is essential to take note of the area before setting up a geothermal power plant.

  • Security of energy production

In order to protect the production of geothermal energy, there needs to be a perfect arrangement for protection as well. Therefore, there is an additional requirement for the security of energy, which has an overall impact on production costs. This advantage makes it easier to produce safe geothermal energy!

The cons:

Apart from the merits associated with the production of geothermal energy, there are also demerits related to geothermal plants. The possible faults are listed below:

  • Reduction of noise pollution is costly

Although less amount of noise is produced in the production of the geothermal power plant, it takes a lot amount of money to reduce this noise factor. Therefore, to minimize the damaging noise effects of machinery, separate equipment needs to be set up by engineers. Therefore, these machines can cost a little extra and even reduce pollution levels too.

  • The effects on the environment

Every other industry that you come across, has its own pros and cons. Therefore, even the geothermal power plant is known to have some harmful effects on the environment around. Although the emission of gases is much less, in comparison to other industries, the overall result is not seen as the same. A recent survey proves the fact that the consumption of water for generating thermal energy is very high. As a result, freshwater from nearby water bodies starts to run low, causing a considerable strain in the environment. In addition to that, large emissions of carbon monoxide, methane, as well as ammonia are associated with geothermal energy production, which causes a huge impact on the environment. Therefore, the tag of sustainability and environment-friendly, for geothermal power plants can be quite deceptive!

Water Waste
Water Waste
  • Limitations of geography

Geographical location has a huge role to play in limiting the setup of geothermal power plants. The efficiency of a geothermal power plant is only stated on the grounds of fulfilled establishments, which is yet again hampered, in relation to places. Not all regions are capable of setting up a massive plant for geothermal energy. This drawback restricts the industry to a few places only, where all resources are available.

Geothermal Steam Vents
Geothermal Steam Vents
  • Construction is quite expensive

The overall construction costs for installing a geothermal power plant is pretty costly. Therefore, taking the costs of setting up the equipment, along with other elements, the geothermal power plant requires huge investments. Even heating, as well as the use of cooling devices, are costlier, which shifts the overall construction cost of the plant towards the expensive side.

  • Exhaustion of earth’s resources

The use of earth’s heat, oil, natural gas, clean water, etc., creates an additional burden on the earth’s resources. A time will come when none of these resources will be available. Therefore, geothermal power plants are causing exhaustion, in one way or the other.

In analyzing geothermal power plant pros and cons, it becomes clear that the merits have an overall effect on the limits of production too. Therefore, the labor provided by the plant is clean, safe, and 100% authentic, when it comes to energy levels. Consequently, they are completely stable in the overall costs of electricity production as well, resulting in a significantly higher amount of profits.


The working mechanism behind a geothermal plant:

The appearance of the mechanisms involved reflects a geothermal power plant. In the process of extraction of heat from the earth’s core, there results in the use of drills and other equipment. The use of water further generates extreme steam, which is then converted to geothermal energy.

The water is supplied with the help of powerful turbines, whose speed is unmatched. Therefore, the overall electricity production cost, via a geothermal plant is also less. Each generating station stores different amounts of geothermal power and is yet again differentiated on its uses. The use of transformers, generating stations, along with the use of other machinery, contributes to the extraction of necessary earth’s heat. Therefore, it is quite generic to understand the necessity of power production in these plants!

The conclusion

The potential use and establishment of geothermal plants speak a lot about its overall efficiency. A geothermal power plant can be used to generate electricity, which reduces the cost, along with the overall production scenario too. The energy is not only clean but is sustainable in the long run. In recent years, the use of geothermal energy has increased due to its positive effects. Thus, keeping up with the contributions of this renewable source, geothermal power plants receive support from larger industrial units, just because of its eco-friendly nature!

Written by M Eduard

M. Eduard was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. Eduard spent his MBA summer internship at Sungevity, a residential solar energy retail company in Oakland, CA. He started this website to share his knowledge about renewable energy.