The Facts about Geothermal Power
Geothermal energy comes directly from the center of the earth. No, there is not a pipeline running thousands of miles to the core. What there is, are pockets of heated water below the surface at different levels, known as “geothermal reservoirs.” By tapping into these reservoirs, hot water and steam can be pumped to the surface and used to generate electricity. At the level of some of these reservoirs, that temperature could reach anywhere from 400 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
Geothermal power can be harnessed in a couple of ways. First, there is the direct approach. The hot water from the earth’s reservoirs can be pumped into homes and businesses. A heat exchanger transfers the heat to the building’s system while sending the cooled water to a reservoir for reuse.
Heat pumps that run on geothermal power use a closed loop system to pull the heat that is found in the earth below the soil. Because the temperature stays pretty constant, a series of pipes can be buried below the ground where the heat can be pulled into the pipes via a circulating fluid. This group of pipes known as a “loop” them passes the heat on to your home with the help of an electric compressor and a heat exchanger.