About 99 percent of our planet is hotter than 1,000 degrees Celsius, and the Earth’s core, at a depth of over 2,900 kilometers, reaches 5,000 degrees Celsius. This gigantic energy reservoir is virtually an inexhaustible source of energy.
The use of geothermal energy does not release any harmful carbon dioxide emissions, and the power plants for generating heat or electricity require relatively little space and the heat is always available, regardless of weather conditions. Over 60 nations have been using geothermal energy for decades now. Countries like Iceland, Costa Rica, Djibouti and New Zealand can cover from 10% to 30% of their energy needs with geothermal power plants. A major new project has recently started in Kenya.
Since the Earth’s crust is not uniform, there are some places where the crust is thinner than others. It roughly varies from 30 to 70 Kilometers thick, as measured from the surface. Therefore, Geothermal resources vary from location to location, but as new technologies, such as those invented by M-Power/Proteus come into the market, utilizing lower temperatures becomes economically feasible and as a result geothermal power is becoming more widespread.
So how do you produce electricity from this abundant source? It is actually almost as simple as drilling a hole in the ground, sending water down, having steam come up and using the steam’s energy to produce electricity.
Advantages of Geothermal Energy:
- Almost entirely emission free
- Zero carbon
- Sulfur emissions can be harnessed and sold.
- No fuel required (no mining or transportation)
- Not subject to the same fluctuations as solar or wind
- Smallest land footprint of any major power source
- Virtually limitless supply
- Inherently simple and reliable
- Can provide base load or peak power
- Already cost competitive in most areas
- Could be built underground
- Geothermal energy is available in most places
- M-Power/Proteus technologies utilize lower temperatures
Disadvantages of traditional technologies:
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), geothermal energy still has a lot of unexploited potential. “Geothermal now provides less than 1 percent of the world’s power,” says Nafi Toksoz, professor of geophysics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “although it could supply as much as 20 percent in the coming decades.” By 2030 the output from such power plants could rise to 1,700 TWh per year, or up to 4% of global electricity production. However, before such increases can be achieved, many improvements are needed in the delivery systems of this kind of energy. To improve the delivery systems of geothermal energy has been and continues to be the main focus of M-Power / Proteus partnership.
Traditionally not many locations were suitable for geothermal power production. The Pacific’s “Ring of Fire,” at the boundaries of active tectonic plates was considered particularly good for geothermal systems. At such points, energy from inside the earth can easily rise to the surface, to create volcanoes as well as very warm water-bearing layers in the earth’s crust that are available for power generation.
The traditional systems employ the same basic principles, world wide: A hole is drilled down to a hot, water-bearing layer of the earth, which is often located more than 1,000 meters underground. In this layer, the water is under pressure — generally 5 to 20 bars. This pressure causes the water and steam mixture to rise through the borehole to the surface. At temperatures as high as 250 °C, the steam drives a turbine which is connected to a generator. After the vapour is condensed, the condensate is pumped back into the hot zone underground. At higher temperatures, steam from the depths of the earth can also be channeled directly into a turbine.
As it percolates through the hot layers of the earth’s crust, steam absorbs and concentrates hydrogen sulfide, other gases, salts, and minerals from the layers of rock. This creates a major problem for turbines that use steam directly from the ground. Substances from underground inflict greater damage on turbine blades and other components of geothermal power plants than does the steam in conventional steam turbine power stations. This results in corrosion, erosion, and reduced efficiency. The turbines and the associated scrubbing system must be overhauled every 3 to 5 years, depending on the quality of the steam. Separation systems are required upstream of the generating turbine to scrub and remove many of these substances, but cannot manage to do so completely.
M-Power’s Geothermal Systems
M-Power’s systems do not require high temperatures to access geothermal energy and do not use turbines in the process of generating electricity.
Therefore, M-Power’s systems:
- Are much cheaper to build and maintain.
- May be used in many places outside the “Ring of Fire.”
- Use shallow boreholes and avoid expensive deep drilling and the risk of associated earthquakes.
- Enclose the process water in special tubing of a closed loop to avoid complex and expensive equipment for scrubbing and disposal of pollutants.
- New elements such as “Nano materials,” manufactured by CVMR Corporation, significantly expand the thermal absorption properties of water circulating in the closed loop system, thus increasing the overall thermal efficiency of the system.
These factors increase the M-Power systems’ efficiency and allow electricity to be produced at much lower capital and operational costs.