From Oil Reserves to Clean Energy: Geothermal Scalability

For a major breakout, geothermal energy is ready. While the system has been there for some time now, one might say that if you check at the Romans as well as springs in Iceland’s naturally heated spas, a lot of years indeed, it has never been used as a sustainable part of the power mix in the very same manner as wind and solar power. In terms of growth, the next several years will be crucial. The International Energy Agency projects geothermal capacity development of about 3,600 to 4,500 megawatts worldwide by 2023.

And a survey from the United States in 2019, the Energy Department estimates that by the year 2050 the share of electricity generated by geothermal facilities will grow twenty-six fold, to the level that 8.5% will be accountable for nation’s power supply. Several forms of geothermal resources are available. Shallow geothermal energy is commonly used in private homes. It entails saving heating and cooling energy by tapping into the stable temperatures several meters underneath the earth’s surface. Shallow ventures may also require merely using the heat directly as it escapes from the surface in the hot springs as well as volcanic vents. These are simple to design but difficult to scale.

At temperatures ranging from 80 to around 150 degrees Celsius, intermediate-scale geothermal projects tap into the soil. It is not hot enough just to generate direct electricity, but hot enough to be using the heat directly for the district heating (like in the case of Munich City) or to operate a heat exchanger to generate cold air. In parts of the world where the cooling is a significant usage and cost of electricity, this may be critical. Intermediate subsurface geothermal projects are versatile, ensuring that they can be utilized for large infrastructure (communities, cities, office buildings, etc.)

While they are not effective enough to produce electricity, they could also be used as Multi-Effect Desalination as well as Adsorption Desalination (MEDAD) technologies to produce desalinized water effectively. Geothermal programs deserve to be a larger part of that equation of renewable energies so they can help fill the “energy gap.” Solar panels do not produce whenever the sun is not shining with all the gains of the other sources of renewable energy, as well as wind turbines do not generate when the wind is quiet. One value of the fossil fuel power facilities is that they are “dispatchable,” which ensures that, based on demand; they can easily be switched on and off, but still run 24/7.

Wind and solar systems cannot do this, at least unless more efficient and inexpensive storage systems are built. Geothermal can easily balance this out: In the case of the intermediate geothermal, to help offset grid requirement, it can supplement electricity needs.

We are now at a critical stage in our energy resource diversification. When applied to solar and wind power options, geothermal energy will help build a stable, sustainable blend of green energy. The raw material is there: The GeoVision report by the Department of Energy predicts a cumulative U.S. geothermal resource of not less than 5,157 gigawatts, adequate for years to come to meet our energy demands. We’ve just got to tap into it.