Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 1

Geo-Thermal Energy for Electricity Generation

-By Sudesh Munasinghe

Geothermal energy is the heat energy that is stored deep within the Earths core. This energy has mainly

originated from radioactive decay of minerals (about 80%) the rest has originated from the formation of Earth. Due to this trapped heat energy, temperatures at the Earths core may reach very high
values; even as high as 6500 degrees Celsius. Heat in the core is conducted conducts to surrounding rock. As a result of this high temperature and the extremely high pressure some rock melt down, forming molten rock commonly known as magma. Since magma is lighter than solid rock it convects upward and heats rock and water reservoirs in the Earths crust, sometimes up to over 370 degrees Celsius. Such reservoirs can be harnessed to produce steam to drive electricity generators. Because Earth is able to produce magma almost limitlessly, and the heat transfer between subsurface rock and water is continuous, geothermal energy is considered a renewable resource. Unlike some intermittent renewable fuels such as solar and wind, geothermal plants are much more reliable as they can operate through out the day.

As the geothermal resources used to generate electricity are located as deep as 10,000 feet below the earth's surface, deep wells must be drilled to reach them. Because of that, capital costs for the construction of geothermal power plants are much higher. But their operation and maintenance costs are low as fuel costs are absent. Even though geothermal electricity generation facilities are more expensive than wind power at present, they are becoming a better option than fossil fuel powered plants. Geothermal electricity generation technologies are "flash" technology and "binary" technology. In the flash technology, water with temperatures ranging from 150 to 375 degrees Celsius, but still in liquid form, is piped from its highly pressurized underground reservoir into a geothermal facility. Once this super-heated water is released, it flashes into steam that can then be used to drive a conventional turbine generator. In binary technology, underground reservoir waters of lower temperatures are used. Here heat from geothermal water is transferred to a second (binary) liquid, which flashes into vapor upon heating, and that vapor is used to drive turbines. The principal pollution concern associated with geo-thermal power generation is ground water contamination. The disposal of hot water and waste water may also cause significant pollution of surface waters and ground water supplies. But as usually, used geothermal fluids are collected and re-injected in to underground reservoirs to facilitate recycling and reuse, the above problem can be overcome. Worldwide, more than 11,000 megawatts (MW) of geothermal electric power is generated in over 20 countries. Apart from that direct geothermal heating is being used for purposes like space heating and desalination processes in some countries. According to the geologists, even though Sri Lanka is not located in a volcanic terrain, 11 hot water springs are found here which are associated with a geological and tectonic boundary that covers a 300-km stretch from Kinniya in Trincomalee to Hambantota. Some preliminary studies done by geologists has revealed that temperatures between 160 and 200C can be observed at a few km below the natural hot springs. May be these heat resources could be utilized to take the electricity generation in Sri Lanka to a new era.