Science / Geothermal Energy In Australia
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Autor: anton 09 March 2011
Words: 605 | Pages: 3
Geothermal Energy in Australia
Geothermal energy is being investigated as a possible energy source for the electricity generation primarily because of its enormous potential to power cities like Adelaide for a very long time. About 3-5 kilometers below the surface of Australia are huge resources of granite that the molten core of the earth has heated to about 250 degrees centigrade. One cubic kilometer of hot granite at this temperature has the same energy potential as 40 million barrels of oil.
It is considered to be far more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels because it has zero carbon emissions and uses the natural heat from the earth to create steam from water that drives turbines to generate electricity. Unlike burning natural gas (CH4, Methane) for example, geothermal power stations do not release Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere, as shown below:
H2O (l) (arrow) H2O(g) (Simply heating water until evaporates into steam has no byproducts)
CH4 + 2O2 (arrow) CO2 + 2H2O (Products of burning Methane with Oxygen are Carbon Dioxide and Water)
The superheated rocks of the Cooper Basin have been described as a long-term, renewable energy source for Australia. The phrase Ð²Ð‚?long-termÐ²Ð‚â„¢ means that the source will last for a great many years, or in this case decades before it runs out. In fact, as long as the rocks under the earth are being constantly heated by the core, as they have been for millions of years, the source is unlikely to run out. The term Ð²Ð‚?renewableÐ²Ð‚â„¢ means that the energy can be renewed, or used time and time again.
Geodynamic propose to convert the energy from hot granite into electricity. A simple flow chart describing this process is as follows:
Australia is behind other countries in terms of investing in renewable forms of energy. There are several impediments that have prevented the environmentally friendly energy industry from establishing itself on a large scale in Australia. They includeÐ²Ð‚Â¦
The main advantages of using geothermal energy are: It has the potential to power large cities for hundreds if not thousands of years, and supplies of hot granite will not deplete unlike fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. It is cost effective for businesses and it does not use much land, and importantly does not affect the appearance of the landscape as wind turbines do. Power stations are reliable and can operate 24 hours a day. They are very economical for developing countries as they reduce the need to import fuel and geothermal power stations donÐ²Ð‚â„¢t need as much investment. Most importantly of all, they donÐ²Ð‚â„¢t leave a carbon footprint.
There are also a couple of minor disadvantages of using this powerful energy source: geothermal sites can be very difficult to find, and some sites could possibly Ð²Ð‚?run out of steamÐ²Ð‚â„¢ ( ). The production of geothermal energy may produce minerals that are hazardous to humans and are hard to dispose of or take a very long time to break down. The production of electricity from geothermal energy also produces some pollutants (CO2, HS, SO2 and CH4) but these are only 1% of what would be emitted from even the cleanest coal/oil burning power station.
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