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Geothermal Energy. Stephen Lawrence Leeds School of Business University of Colorado Boulder, CO 80309-0419. AGENDA – Geothermal Energy. Geothermal Overview Extracting Geothermal Energy Environmental Implications Economic Considerations Geothermal Installations – Examples.

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geothermal energy

Geothermal Energy

Stephen Lawrence

Leeds School of Business

University of Colorado

Boulder, CO 80309-0419

agenda geothermal energy
AGENDA – Geothermal Energy
  • Geothermal Overview
  • Extracting Geothermal Energy
  • Environmental Implications
  • Economic Considerations
  • Geothermal Installations – Examples
geothermal in context
Geothermal in Context

U.S. Energy Consumption by Energy Source, 2000-2004 (Quadrillion Btu)

advantages of geothermal
Advantages of Geothermal

heat from the earth s center
Heat from the Earth’s Center
  • Earth's core maintains temperatures in excess of 5000°C
    • Heat radual radioactive decay of elements
  • Heat energy continuously flows from hot core
    • Conductive heat flow
    • Convective flows of molten mantle beneath the crust.
  • Mean heat flux at earth's surface
    • 16 kilowatts of heat energy per square kilometer
    • Dissipates to the atmosphere and space.
    • Tends to be strongest along tectonic plate boundaries
  • Volcanic activity transports hot material to near the surface
    • Only a small fraction of molten rock actually reaches surface.
    • Most is left at depths of 5-20 km beneath the surface,
  • Hydrological convection forms high temperature geothermal systems at shallow depths of 500-3000m.

earth dynamics
Earth Dynamics

earth temperature gradient
Earth Temperature Gradient

geothermal site schematic
Geothermal Site Schematic

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004


Clepsydra Geyser in Yellowstone

hot springs
Hot Springs

Hot springs in Steamboat Springs area.


Clay Diablo Fumarole (CA)

White Island Fumarole

New Zealand

global geothermal sites
Global Geothermal Sites

tectonic plate movements
Tectonic Plate Movements

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

methods of heat extraction
Methods of Heat Extraction

units of measure
Units of Measure
  • Pressure
    • 1 Pascal (Pa) = 1 Newton / square meter
    • 100 kPa = ~ 1 atmosphere = ~14.5 psi
    • 1 MPa = ~10 atmospheres = ~145 psi
  • Temperature
    • Celsius (ºC); Fahrenheit (ºF); Kelvin (K)
    • 0 ºC = 32 ºF = 273 K
    • 100 ºC = 212 ºF = 373 K
dry steam power plants
Dry Steam Power Plants
  • “Dry” steam extracted from natural reservoir
    • 180-225 ºC ( 356-437 ºF)
    • 4-8 MPa (580-1160 psi)
    • 200+ km/hr (100+ mph)
  • Steam is used to drive a turbo-generator
  • Steam is condensed and pumped back into the ground
  • Can achieve 1 kWh per 6.5 kg of steam
    • A 55 MW plant requires 100 kg/s of steam

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

dry steam schematic
Dry Steam Schematic

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

single flash steam power plants
Single Flash Steam Power Plants
  • Steam with water extracted from ground
  • Pressure of mixture drops at surface and more water “flashes” to steam
  • Steam separated from water
  • Steam drives a turbine
  • Turbine drives an electric generator
  • Generate between 5 and 100 MW
  • Use 6 to 9 tonnes of steam per hour
single flash steam schematic
Single Flash Steam Schematic

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

binary cycle power plants
Binary Cycle Power Plants
  • Low temps – 100o and 150oC
  • Use heat to vaporize organic liquid
    • E.g., iso-butane, iso-pentane
  • Use vapor to drive turbine
    • Causes vapor to condense
    • Recycle continuously
  • Typically 7 to 12 % efficient
  • 0.1 – 40 MW units common

binary cycle schematic
Binary Cycle Schematic

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

binary plant power output
Binary Plant Power Output

double flash power plants
Double Flash Power Plants
  • Similar to single flash operation
  • Unflashed liquid flows to low-pressure tank – flashes to steam
  • Steam drives a second-stage turbine
    • Also uses exhaust from first turbine
  • Increases output 20-25% for 5% increase in plant costs
double flash schematic
Double Flash Schematic

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

combined cycle plants
Combined Cycle Plants
  • Combination of conventional steam turbine technology and binary cycle technology
    • Steam drives primary turbine
    • Remaining heat used to create organic vapor
    • Organic vapor drives a second turbine
  • Plant sizes ranging between 10 to 100+ MW
  • Significantly greater efficiencies
    • Higher overall utilization
    • Extract more power (heat) from geothermal resource

hot dry rock technology
Hot Dry Rock Technology
  • Wells drilled 3-6 km into crust
    • Hot crystalline rock formations
  • Water pumped into formations
  • Water flows through natural fissures picking up heat
  • Hot water/steam returns to surface
  • Steam used to generate power

hot dry rock technology30
Hot Dry Rock Technology

Fenton Hill plant

soultz hot fractured rock
Soultz Hot Fractured Rock

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

2 well hdr system parameters
2-Well HDR System Parameters
  • 2×106 m2 = 2 km2
  • 2×108 m3 = 0.2 km3

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

promise of hdr
Promise of HDR
  • 1 km3 of hot rock has the energy content of 70,000 tonnes of coal
    • If cooled by 1 ºC
  • Upper 10 km of crust in US has 600,000 times annual US energy (USGS)
  • Between 19-138 GW power available at existing hydrothermal sites
    • Using enhanced technology

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

direct use technologies
Direct Use Technologies
  • Geothermal heat is used directly rather than for power generation
  • Extract heat from low temperature geothermal resources
    • < 150 oC or 300 oF.
  • Applications sited near source (<10 km)

geothermal heat pump
Geothermal Heat Pump

heat vs depth profile
Heat vs. Depth Profile

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

geothermal district heating
Geothermal District Heating

Southhampton geothermal district heating system technology schematic

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

direct heating example
Direct Heating Example

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

technological issues
Technological Issues
  • Geothermal fluids can be corrosive
    • Contain gases such as hydrogen sulphide
    • Corrosion, scaling
  • Requires careful selection of materials and diligent operating procedures
  • Typical capacity factors of 85-95%

technology vs temperature
Technology vs. Temperature

geothermal performance
Geothermal Performance

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

environmental impacts

Vegetation loss

Soil erosion



Slight air heating

Local fogging


Reservoir cooling

Seismicity (tremors)


Watershed impact

Damming streams

Hydrothermal eruptions

Lower water table



Benign overall

Environmental Impacts

  • Heat depleted as ground cools
  • Not steady-state
    • Earth’s core does not replenish heat to crust quickly enough
  • Example:
    • Iceland's geothermal energy could provide 1700 MW for over 100 years, compared to the current production of 140 MW

cost factors
Cost Factors
  • Temperature and depth of resource
  • Type of resource (steam, liquid, mix)
  • Available volume of resource
  • Chemistry of resource
  • Permeability of rock formations
  • Size and technology of plant
  • Infrastructure (roads, transmission lines)

costs of geothermal energy
Costs of Geothermal Energy
  • Costs highly variable by site
    • Dependent on many cost factors
  • High exploration costs
  • High initial capital, low operating costs
    • Fuel is “free”
  • Significant exploration & operating risk
    • Adds to overall capital costs
    • “Risk premium”

risk assessment
Risk Assessment

geothermal development
Geothermal Development

cost of water steam
Cost of Water & Steam

Table Geothermal Steam and Hot Water Supply Cost where drilling is required

cost of geothermal power
Cost of Geothermal Power

direct capital costs
Direct Capital Costs

Direct Capital Costs (US $/kW installed capacity)

indirect costs
Indirect Costs
  • Availability of skilled labor
  • Infrastructure and access
  • Political stability
  • Indirect Costs
    • Good: 5-10% of direct costs
    • Fair: 10-30% of direct costs
    • Poor: 30-60% of direct costs

operating maintenance costs
Operating/Maintenance Costs

Operating and Maintenance Costs

geothermal power examples
Geothermal Power Examples

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

geothermal power generation
Geothermal Power Generation
  • World production of 8 GW
    • 2.7 GW in US
  • The Geyers (US) is world’s largest site
    • Produces 2 GW
  • Other attractive sites
    • Rift region of Kenya, Iceland, Italy, France, New Zealand, Mexico, Nicaragua, Russia, Phillippines, Indonesia, Japan

geothermal energy plant
Geothermal Energy Plant

Geothermal energy plant in Iceland

geothermal well testing
Geothermal Well Testing

Geothermal well testing, Zunil, Guatemala

heber geothermal power station
Heber Geothermal Power Station

52kW electrical generating capacity

geysers geothermal plant
Geysers Geothermal Plant

The Geysers is the largest producer of geothermal power in the world.

geyers cost effectiveness
Geyers Cost Effectiveness

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

geothermal prospects
Geothermal Prospects
  • Environmentally very attractive
  • Attractive energy source in right locations
  • Likely to remain an adjunct to other larger energy sources
    • Part of a portfolio of energy technologies
  • Exploration risks and up-front capital costs remain a barrier
geothermal gradient
Geothermal Gradient

geo hydrothermal systems
Geo/Hydrothermal Systems

location of resources
Location of Resources

ground structures
Ground Structures

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

volcanic geothermal system
Volcanic Geothermal System

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

temperature gradients
Temperature Gradients

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

uk geothermal resources
UK Geothermal Resources

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

porosity vs hydraulic conductivity
Porosity vs. Hydraulic Conductivity

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

performance vs rock type
Performance vs. Rock Type

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

deep well characteristics
Deep Well Characteristics

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

single flash plant schematic
Single Flash Plant Schematic


binary cycle power plant
Binary Cycle Power Plant

flash steam power plant
Flash Steam Power Plant

efficiency of heat pumps
Efficiency of Heat Pumps

Boyle, Renewable Energy, 2nd edition, 2004

recent developments
Recent Developments
  • Comparing statistical data for end-1996 (SER 1998) and the present Survey, it can be seen that there has been an increase in world geothermal power plant capacity (+9%) and utilisation (+23%) while direct heat systems show a 56% additional capacity, coupled with a somewhat lower rate of increase in their use (+32%).
  • Geothermal power generation growth is continuing, but at a lower pace than in the previous decade, while direct heat uses show a strong increase compared to the past.
  • Going into some detail, the six countries with the largest electric power capacity are: USA with 2 228 MWe is first, followed by Philippines (1 863 MWe); four countries (Mexico, Italy, Indonesia, Japan) had capacity (at end-1999) in the range of 550-750 MWe each. These six countries represent 86% of the world capacity and about the same percentage of the world output, amounting to around 45 000 GWhe.
  • The strong decline in the USA in recent years, due to overexploitation of the giant Geysers steam field, has been partly compensated by important additions to capacity in several countries: Indonesia, Philippines, Italy, New Zealand, Iceland, Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador. Newcomers in the electric power sector are Ethiopia (1998), Guatemala (1998) and Austria (2001). In total, 22 nations are generating geothermal electricity, in amounts sufficient to supply 15 million houses.
  • Concerning direct heat uses, Table 12.1 shows that the three countries with the largest amount of installed power: USA (5 366 MWt), China (2 814 MWt) and Iceland (1 469 MWt) cover 58% of the world capacity, which has reached 16 649 MWt, enough to provide heat for over 3 million houses. Out of about 60 countries with direct heat plants, beside the three above-mentioned nations, Turkey, several European countries, Canada, Japan and New Zealand have sizeable capacity.
  • With regard to direct use applications, a large increase in the number of GHP installations for space heating (presently estimated to exceed 500 000) has put this category in first place in terms of global capacity and third in terms of output. Other geothermal space heating systems are second in capacity but first in output. Third in capacity (but second in output) are spa uses followed by greenhouse heating. Other applications include fish farm heating and industrial process heat. The outstanding rise in world direct use capacity since 1996 is due to the more than two-fold increase in North America and a 45% addition in Asia. Europe also has substantial direct uses but has remained fairly stable: reductions in some countries being compensated by progress in others.
  • Concerning R&D, the HDR project at Soultz-sous-Forêts near the French-German border has progressed significantly. Besides the ongoing Hijiori site in Japan, another HDR test has just started in Switzerland (Otterbach near Basel).
  • The total world use of geothermal power is giving a contribution both to energy saving (around 26 million tons of oil per year) and to CO2 emission reduction (80 million tons/year if compared with equivalent oil-fuelled production).