What is Geothermal?
The interior of the Earth stores heat, which is released to the surface in the form of magma by volcanoes. That is why in the volcanic zones the temperature of the earth is higher than in the other places of the world.
Geothermal energy is a non-conventional renewable energy (NCRE), not intermittent (Base), which comes from the use of this heat that we find on Earth and where there are places where the heat is closer to the surface, there are geographical areas in that this energy is more efficient, since the earth is at a higher temperature where, for example, there are volcanoes, such as the Pacific Ring of Fire Belt, where Chile is located.
In these places we can find what we call "geothermal fluid" that can be used to generate electricity.
Heat of the earth
This "fluid" that is at different degrees of temperature can be used to generate electricity.
What a geothermal plant does, to produce electricity, is to identify (through studies and exploration drilling) where the geothermal fluid (water and other elements) is rising at a higher temperature (the more temperature the steam has, the more electricity it produces) to be able to drill and give a more attractive path (the tube generates less resistance for the gas, which is under a lot of pressure, than the faults in the rock) to the water in a gaseous state that will rise through this channel to the plant to a cycle of turbines, etc. . Where the steam will be used to generate electricity and then it will be reinjected to the earth so that the geothermal cycle maintains its natural course (since this is a closed process, which makes geothermal energy a clean and renewable energy).
A plant consists of several geothermal wells, which allows to maintain the operation of the generator, even when one of these wells is not being used (maintenance, etc.) which gives the
geothermal, a very high factor of plant (because the resource is inexhaustible, since it is the heat of the earth and the water cycle is constantly renewed so it can operate constantly), of more than 90%. This is one of the great distinctions it has in relation to other NCRE because it is stable over time and reliable in case of eventualities (climatic, political, etc.), which makes it a basic energy and capable of providing security to the energy matrix.
Another important point that we must consider of geothermal energy is the flexibility it can provide to the electrical system, something that will be more and more required as the increase of intermittent ERNC such as wind and solar to the matrix, a flexible matrix is important to the moment of incorporating intermittent energies since in this way the discontinuity of the energy entering the matrix is better handled. This helps the safety and economic efficiency of the system.
World Potential: 70-80 GW approximately.
MW installed worldwide: 13.270 MW to 2017
Countries with the highest installed capacity: 1st United States (3,5 GW), 2nd Philippines (1,9 GW), 3rd Indonesia (1,4 GW) and 4th México (more than 1GW), followed by New Zealand, Italy, Iceland, Turkey, Kenya and Japan.
Geothermal plants with higher generation: 1st The Geysers Geothermal Complex with MW installed, California, United States with 1.517 MW installed. 2nd Larderello Geothermal Complex, Italy, with 769 MW installed and also where the generation of geothermal energy was first started. 3rd Cerro Prieto, México with 720 MW installed. 4th Makban Geothermal Complex, The Philippines with 458 MW installed.
In the world
Countries with the greatest potential: The countries or areas with the greatest potential coincide with those that have greater volcanic activity, since in these places the heat gradient in the earth presents anomalies thanks to the surface presence of the magma. So, as seen in the photo, all those countries that are in the "Pacific Ring of Fire", have a high geothermal potential. Chile being one of these countries, paradoxically we find only a single 48 MW plant that just started operating in 2017.