Companies are now are installing geothermal home and business heating/cooling systems by circulating water thru several waterline "loops" buried in the ground outside of a home or business - this works because of the constant temperature of the earth after going down a few feet and the circulating water either dissipates or picks up heat and thus keeps a building at a constant temperature.
Geothermal power is also electricity generated by taking advantage of high temperature ground water found at shallow depths within the earth's surface. This high temperature water is accessed by drilling wells to reach it, and then processing it by setting up Dry Steam, Flash Steam, or Binary Cycle steam power plants. Dry steam plants take steam directly out of the ground to drive a power turbine. Flash steam plants take hot water from the ground, allow it to boil as it rises, and then separate the steam and water at the surface. Binary Cycle power plants pump hot water from the ground through heat exchangers at the surface and use steam from the secondary fluid in the heat exchanger to run a power turbine. All three methods sometime involve injecting water or treated sewage effluent into the 'hot spots' in order to keep a source of steam flowing.
Given that installations like those described above can be installed on property where there is applicable room, or where high temperature ground water found at shallow depths is available, why not include this as another element of Energy Farming, since a land owner would be farming the land - but from underneath....
Issues with current processes
The processes described above work well and do not pollute our planet, but they do have drawbacks such as:
· Heat at a geothermal site can be depleted over time
· The natural supply of water at a site can be exhausted over time
· Some geothermal sites do not have high enough temperature to sustain a productive plant
· Power plants must be set up were prime geothermal sites are found, which may not necessarily be located in ideal proximity with power consumers
What we should do
Since the apparent solution to the issues described above centers around more abundant heat, then why not drill down further to get it. As shown in the diagrams below, the farther we drill, the more heat we'll find as shown by the various temperatures present at the different layers of the earth's crust.
Earth's temperature per layer
So if we know that current methods of geothermal electrical power production involve drilling wells and injecting water into geothermal sites, then why don't we expand the technology and take further advantage of what the earth has to offer us and drill further down into hot dry rock layers where we can find greater sub-terrain temperatures, channel the heat up to the surface (either via steam [by first sending water down] or by conduction), and use the resulting steam to power some electrical generators as we do today.
It's quite obvious that the cost of drilling deep enough to find common temperatures to make steam is likely to be high, not to mention the fact that we may need to develop some new or enhanced drilling rigs to achieve this goal, but what if Columbus was told to stay home and not take a chance - someone else would have come along and stolen his glory. So in comparison, we need someone to step up, detail a project plan the would need to be followed to obtain this goal on a commercial level (where we'd intend to run an entire city off of one of these types of power plants), and lay out what it would take to give an effort of this nature a try. Also, it is said that the amount of heat contained in the inner workings of our planet is so great, that if we decided to power a better portion of our planet with this source, we would only tap into a fraction of what is there. Hot Dry Rock programs of this nature are currently being investigated in Australia, France, Switzerland, and Germany, so I think it would behoove us here in the U.S. to also investigate this idea and make sure that we are a leader and not a follower in the use of this technology.
Click here to view details describing how Geothermal systems fit into the overall concept of Energy Farming, where energy is farmed from available resources at a locations such as solar, wind, geothermal, and biofuels and from this concept, jobs and revenue can be created for a community.
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