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1 How can geothermal energy can be utilised for

electricity generation

Generation of Electricity using geothermal energy

Most power plants need steam to generate electricity. The steam rotates a turbine that activates
a generator, which produces electricity. Many power plants still use fossil fuels to boil water for
steam. Geothermal power plants, however, use steam produced from reservoirs of hot water
found a couple of miles or more below the Earth's surface. There are three types of geothermal
power plants: dry steam, flash steam, and binary cycle.
Dry steam power plants draw from underground resources of steam. The steam is piped directly
from underground wells to the power plant, where it is directed into a turbine/generator unit.
There are only two known underground resources of steam in the United States: The Geysers in
northern California and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, where there's a well-known
geyser called Old Faithful. Since Yellowstone is protected from development, the only dry steam
plants in the country are at The Geysers.
Flash steam power plants are the most common. They use geothermal reservoirs of water with
temperatures greater than 360F (182C). This very hot water flows up through wells in the
ground under its own pressure. As it flows upward, the pressure decreases and some of the hot
water boils into steam. The steam is then separated from the water and used to power a
turbine/generator. Any leftover water and condensed steam are injected back into the reservoir,
making this a sustainable resource.
Binary cycle power plants operate on water at lower temperatures of about 225-360F (107182C). These plants use the heat from the hot water to boil a working fluid, usually an organic
compound with a low boiling point. The working fluid is vaporized in a heat exchanger and used
to turn a turbine. The water is then injected back into the ground to be reheated. The water and
the working fluid are kept separated during the whole process, so there are little or no air
Small-scale geothermal power plants (under 5 megawatts) have the potential for widespread
application in rural areas, possibly even as distributed energy resources. Distributed energy
resources refer to a variety of small, modular power-generating technologies that can be
combined to improve the operation of the electricity delivery system.

Q.2 Explain the nature of Geothermal Fields

Types of Geothermal Resources The center of the Earth is 4000 miles (6400 kilometers) deep.
How hot is this region? Our best guess is 7200F (4000C) or higher. Partially molten rock, at
temperatures between 1200 and 2200F (650 to 1200C), is believed to exist at depths of 50 to
60 miles (80 to 100 kilometers). Heat is constantly flowing from the Earths interior to the surface.
Most types of geothermal resourceshydrothermal, geopressured, hot dry rock, and magma
result from concentration of Earths thermal energy within certain discrete regions of the
subsurface. Hydrothermal resources are reservoirs of steam or hot water, which are formed by
water seeping into the earth and collecting in, and being heated by fractured or porous hot rock.
These reservoirs are tapped by drilling wells to deliver hot water to the surface for generation of
electricity or direct use. Hot water resources exist in abundance around the world. In the United
States, the hottest (and currently most valuable) resources are located in the western states, and
Alaska and Hawaii. Technologies to tap hydrothermal resources are proven commercial
processes. Geopressured resources are deeply buried waters at moderate temperature that
contain dissolved methane. While technologies are available to tap geopressured resources, they
are not currently economically competitive. In the United States, this resource base is located in
the Gulf coast regions of Texas and Louisiana. Hot dry rock resources occur at depths of 5 to 10
miles (8 to 16 kilometers) everywhere beneath the Earths surface, and at shallower depths in
certain areas. Access to these resources involves injecting cold water down one well, circulating
it through hot fractured rock, and drawing off the now hot water from another well. This
promising technology has been proven feasible, but no commercial applications are in use at this
time. Magma (or molten rock) resources offer extremely high-temperature geothermal
opportunities, but existing technology does not allow recovery of heat from these resources.
Earth energy is the heat contained in soil and rocks at shallow depths. This resource is tapped by
geothermal heat pumps.

Q.3 How Bio-Mass can be Useful for Rural Applications

in recent years the gasifiers have been employed mainly for stationary applications.

A. Electricity generation
For generating electricity, the producer gas from the biomass gasifier is first cleaned and cooled
and then used as a fuel in an IC engine. A generator coupled to the engine produces electricity.
Biomass gasifier engine sets are typically available in capacities ranging from 10 kWe to 500
kWe. Two types of engines are used. Diesel engines are modified and can be run on a mixture
of diesel and producer gas. These are called dual-fuel engines. Typically 60 -85% diesel is
replaced with producer gas. Now 100% producer gas engines are also available as the name
suggests these can operate on 100% producer gas.
Biomass gasifier based electricity generation has typically been used for three types of
A.1 Village electrification in an off-grid mode
In recent years biomass gasifiers have been used for electrification of remote villages. The size
of such systems can vary from 10kWe to 500 kWe. In India, several of the smaller size (10-20
kWe) biomass gasifier systems have been established under two Government of India schemes
called Remote Village Electrification (RVE) and Village Energy Security Programme (VESP). Apart
from the Government programmes, several NGOs and corporate have also established such
There have been a few instances like 500 kWe biomass gasifier based power plant at Gosaba
island in Sundarbans (India) where large capacity gasifiers have been used.
Gosaba rural electrification project
One of the first successful applications of biomass gasifier for rural electrification in an off-grid
mode is 500 kWe gasifier plant set-up at Gosaba island of Sundarban in India. The plant was
set-up in 1997 and consists of 5 x 100 kWe units. The gasifiers are closed-top downdraft systems
based on woody biomass. The plant has dual-fuel engines.

The transmission and distribution line is spread over a length of 6.25 km of high-tension line
and 13.67 km of low-tension line. The plant serves around 900 consumers. The plant is
managed by a local co-operative and the state government.
A.2 Grid-connected biomass gasifier based power plants
There are some examples of grid-connected biomass gasifier power plants. These are relatively
large sized gasifier with capacities ranging in hundreds of kW. A typical example is presented
Arashi Hi-Tech Bio Power Pvt Ltd, Sulthanpet, Coimbatore, Tamilnadu

Arashi Hitech Bio power an independent power producer (IPP)

has set up a gasifier based power plant linked to the State grid. It is located in Sultanpet village
in Coimbatore district of Tamilnadu, where there is abundance availability of coconut shells.
The power plant comprises a biomass processing system, gasification system, PLC based
automation and control system, full fledged water treatment plant, power package and a
power evacuation system. In the first phase, an 800 kg/hr gasifier system was integrated with
a low speed marine diesel engine in July, 2002.
The power plant has operated in the dual-fuel mode at an average load of 600 kWe for nearly
6000 hours. The average liquid fossil replacement recorded is about 68%, with specific biomass
consumption being 0.6-0.7 kg/kWh. Recently the dual-fuel engine has been replaced with 5 x
250 kWe producer gas engines.

A.3 Biomass gasifier for captive power generation

Biomass gasifier plants in an industry or an institute are usually used as captive power
generation unit. In India, a large number of systems have been put-up in rice mills, with ricehusk as the feed material for gasifiers.

B. Thermal applications
A very large number of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) use biomass as well as
fissile fuels for generating heat. With continued rising prices of fossil fuels coupled with their
scarcity (quota) in open market many of these small and are facing serious problems in
controlling fuel cost and as a result keeping competitive pricing for existence in the market.
Gasification technology offers them an option to have all benefits of gaseous fuels using
comparatively cheaper locally available solid biomass fuel. There are a variety of fuel-fired
furnaces that are ideal candidates for switching over to producer gas from biomass. Theses are
listed in table 1.4.

Application/ Temperature (C)

Forging furnace

1200 -1250

Re-rolling mills


Direct fired process heaters food, textile, paper, printing, chemical, rubber, plywood and
plastic industries

paper, cardboard, wood and lumber, textile, ceramic,

tobacco, plastic, paint, food, and pharmaceutical industries


Gypsum, vitreous china-plumbing fixture,

structural clay, and concrete industries.


Low-temperature (ranging between 20 to 370 degree

Celsius) cooking, baking, curing, or to vulcanize (a



treatment that stabilizes and adds elasticity) rubber or

plastic. The food industry uses ovens to bake bread, cookies,

crackers, pretzels, while the rubber and plastic industries use
the lower temperature heat produced in ovens in the
production of tires, footwear, hosiery, and rubber belts (e.g.,
fan belts).
Small boilers

Various industries

A large experience exists now in use of thermal gasifiers for industrial applications. A good
documentation of different applications can be found in CII (2005) ; Mande and Kishore (2007).

Q.4 Discuss The Availability of Biomass

Woody biomass

The Department of Energy5,6 rates wood wastes for domestic use as being economically
attractive at
present, with wood from energy forests and wood wastes for non-residential markets promising
uncertain. However, analysis of single stem short rotation forestry has demonstrated that this
type of
wood production should be cost-competitive with other fuels even in 20 years time.
2 Natural vegetation
Natural vegetation such as bracken, heather and reeds, has also been investigated as a potential energy
source,32 but it is difficult to envisage such crops making a significant impact other than perhaps in
certain limited locations. Harvesting and transportation are major factors in making such energy crops
10.5.3 Cereal straw
At present the average yearly production of straw is 135 Mt, of which 50% is burnt in the field or
ploughed in since it finds no saleable outlet to use as animal bedding or feed. Annually, 166 000 t,
equivalent to 27 PJ, are utilised for farmhouse and animal house heating in some 7700 boilers. The
maximum potential for on-farm straw combustion is 19 Mt/year, but 09 Mt/year (141 PJ/year) is
to be more realistic by 2000.33 In addition, 51 Mt/ year could be used as a heat source in small

particularly the food and drink, cement and brickmaking industries plus light engineering.
However, the market forecast is that 386 000 t/year will be used in industry by 2000, with a further 230
000 t/year consumed by the commercial and institutional sectors, giving a total of 95 PJ/year. The
likely potential for straw heating in the year 2000 in the is thus 236 PJ (079 Mtce).

Other agricultural/horticultural residues/wastes

Biddlestone and Gray34 estimate that, on a fresh weight basis, 16 Mt of potato haulms and sugar beet
tops, 5 Mt of garden and nursery wastes and 120 Mt of livestock manure are generated each year.
Some of this waste is re-used, for example, as feed for animals, as fertiliser, compost, etc., but most is
disposed of, where necessary, by the cheapest route possible to (though not always) take into account
environmental considerations. Land-filling or returning to the soil are probably the most favoured
routes, but the anaerobic digestion of cattle manure (267 Mt/year dry weight production from dairy
l99 Mt/year from beef cattle), pig manure (098 Mt/ year) and that from laying hens (053 Mt/year),35
now lost most of its early promise, as mentioned earlier.