01What is Geothermal Energy?
The Earth is constantly generating heat energy. This naturally occurring heat is known as geothermal energy, and can be used to produce electricity and other useful applications.
02Where does geothermal heat come from?
Geothermal heat is produced by the slow decay of radioactive elements deep within the Earth’s core. This heat is transferred or conducted towards the shallower rocks near the earth’s crust or surface.
03Where is geothermal energy found?
What are some of the evidence of geothermal energy? Some visible features of geothermal energy are volcanoes, hot springs, geysers, and fumaroles. Usually geothermal energy is deep underground. In many cases, there may be no visible evidence above ground to what exists below the surface. Geologists use many methods to find geothermal resources. They may;
- study aerial photographs and geological maps,
- analyze the chemistry of local water sources and the concentration of metals in the soil,
- measure variations in gravity and magnetic fields,
Despite these scoping methods, the only way to be sure that there is a geothermal resource is by drilling wells to measure underground temperatures. The earth is a hot bed of geothermal energy. The most active geothermal resources are usually found along major plate boundaries where earthquakes and volcanoes are concentrated. Most of the geothermal activity in the world occurs in an area known as the "Ring of Fire." The Ring of Fire is found at the tectonic plate margins along the Pacific Ocean and is bounded by Japan, the Philippines, the Aleutian Islands, North America, Central America, and South America.
04Where is geothermal energy being developed in St. Vincent & the Grenadines?
The target location for geothermal development in St. Vincent is in the north windward vicinity of the island, to the east of the La Soufriere volcano.
05How is electricity produced from geothermal energy?
At a geothermal power plant, wells are drilled 1.5-3 km into the earth to pump steam or hot water to the surface. You're most likely to find one of these power plants in an area that has a lot of hot springs, geysers, or volcanic activity, because these are places where the Earth is particularly hot just below the surface.
- Hot water is pumped from deep underground through a well under high pressure.
- When the water reaches the surface, the pressure is dropped, which causes the water to turn into steam.
- The steam spins a turbine, which is connected to a generator that produces electricity.
- The steam cools off in a cooling tower and condenses back to water.
- The cooled water is pumped back into the Earth to begin the process again.
06Will the geothermal heat ever be used up?
No. If managed efficiently, the resource will not be depleted. Geothermal energy is a RENEWABLE form of energy. The long term sustainability of geothermal energy production has been demonstrated at the Lardarello (Italy) and Wairakei (New Zealand) geothermal fields which have been in production since 1913 and 1958 respectively. Although pressure and production declines have been observed at some plants, operators have been developing practices (such as the reinjection of waste water into the geothermal reservoir) in an effort to maintain the reservoir pressure.
07What are the benefits of using geothermal energy?
Geothermal technologies offer many advantages over conventional power generation: Geothermal energy is generally considered to be environmentally friendly. There are a few pollutants in harnessing geothermal energy. Pollutant are emitted are minor- typically one eighth of the carbon emissions compared to the pollution associated with conventional fuel sources (e.g. coal, fossil fuels). Geothermal energy is therefore a renewable energy source. In other words, if managed effectively, geothermal energy is a resource that can sustain its own consumption rate Geothermal energy is a reliable source of energy. The power output of a geothermal power plant can be predicted with remarkable accuracy. This is not the case with solar, wind, hydro or other intermittent energy sources where the weather/season plays a huge part in power production. Geothermal power plants are therefore excellent for meeting the base load energy demand.
08What is a baseload power source?
A baseload power plant produces energy at a constant rate. Because the energy is constant, its power output can remain consistent nearly 24 hours a day, giving geothermal energy a higher capacity factor than solar or wind power, which must wait for the sunlight or the wind, respectively. This means a geothermal plant with a smaller capacity than a solar or wind plant can provide more actual, delivered electricity.
09Will geothermal drilling cause a volcanic eruption?
No. Although there may be seismic activity occurring during geothermal drilling, it has not been observed to cause volcanic eruptions..