Geothermal energy is the thermal energy, most commonly experienced as heat, of our planet. The term refers to all forms of temperature exchange within the earth’s entire thermal system, especially between the hot core, the relatively low-temperature crust and the surrounding atmosphere. It is available naturally, for example, in hot springs and geysers, and has long been harnessed by humans, for example, for heating purposes and to prepare food. More complex geothermal systems enable a targeted search for geothermically active areas, followed by efficient use and transformation into renewable energy, clean heat and electricity generation for end users.
What are the most common forms of geothermal energy?
The simplest, most energy-efficient and ancient direct uses of geothermal power include the enjoyment of its benefits by bathing in hot springs, cooking in hot water from volcanic sources or collecting high-temperature rocks for heating purposes. Modern direct uses like space heating, industrial process heating and district heating close to the energy source are similarly energy-efficient and relatively simple. Electricity can be generated by turbines powered with geothermal steam. In some dry-steam power plants, both the steam and its emergence through ground fractures is natural, in others the steam pathway to the earth’s surface is created artificially and others still force the development of steam by pumping hot water from underground reservoirs into low-temperature water.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of geothermal energy?
The clearest advantage of geothermal energy is that it is the only natural, fully renewable energy source that is constant, stable and does not fluctuate. It is also abundant enough to be available in practically endless supply. Tapping geothermal energy can affect the temperature of specific sites, but does little to change the earth’s overall thermal energy. Disadvantages include the cost of drilling, where necessary, which can vary depending on the site, the resources required to power a pump, which lower the energy efficiency of production, and the pollutants released, including greenhouse gases.
Smart energy solutions for a decarbonized future
Smart energy management systems, such as those offered by MAN Energy Solutions, mix and match the available energy sources in any given location to create the cleanest, most economical and reliable supply at all times. These systems can integrate several different types of sustainable, renewable energy (such as geothermal, solar and wind) with conventional fossil fuel power and energy-efficient storage solutions, for optimal coverage.Learn more about decarbonization
Hybrid power plants integrate geothermal energy
Hybrid power plants can use renewable resources like geothermal power to generate electricity or heat, depending on demand. Any surplus can be stored. In case of shortages, it can be supplemented with power generated from clean natural gas or carbon-neutral e-gas.
Thermal energy storage and supply – thanks to ETES
A new tri-generation energy management system, known as MAN ETES (Electro-Thermal Energy Storage), enables effective sector coupling by allowing electricity, heat and cold to be generated, stored and used across different sectors. The system solves two fundamental challenges: On the one hand, it helps balance the grid by absorbing large amounts of surplus or off-peak electricity from renewables and feeding it back into the grid on demand. On the other hand, it integrates multiple sectors by generating, storing, and providing thermal energy for heating and cooling purposes.