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<< Back to geothermal energy start page

Geothermal Plant

The geothermal energy together with wind and solar are the moment the most popular and economical viable alternative sources to produce electricity. Although the geothermal energy is a good alternative to replace fossil fuels when properly designed and maintained, is less environmentally friendly as the solar, wind and ocean energies. In the diagram below a generic geothermal plant is represented, many variations to this general plant are in fact possible and the actual design will depend on the specific conditions of the geothermal bank characteristic, ground geology and chemical composition of the water and contaminants etc. In general this is a very close diagram on what you will find in any geothermal plant in the world.





Geothermal Plant How it Works, Diagram-Schematic


Hot Rock bed

Hot Water and Steam  (150 to 400 °C)

Permeable Rock

Upper Soil Layer


Hot Water

  Steam Condenser



Turbine and Electricity


Water Treatment Process. Removal of

Harmful Minerals and Sulphuric Acid

Hot Water and Steam

From Under Ground

Steam for Heating and

Other Uses (Optional)

Water Return to Ground


300 to 3000

Meters deep

    Heat Exchanger

Geothermal Plant

How It Works Diagram

 Water Cooling Tower

Water For Industrial and

Agricultural uses

Water Pump

Cooling Fan







         Control Valve

Picture Copy Rights by Engitek.com

AC Power

Hot Water

 Cold Water

Steam-Hot Water Separator Tank


The above diagram illustrates very well how a geothermal plant works, once a tube has be inserted all the way down to the hot water bank the water and steam is pushed out by the high pressure and temperature, in order to separate the hot water and the hot steam a separation tank is used as shown. The steam from this separation tank is directed to move a turbine that is mechanically coupled to an electricity generator, in occasions part of the steam can be used for other application such as for home heating or industrial uses, once the steam passes trough the turbines can be condensed back to water using a condenser that is nothing that a heat exchanger where the steam is cooled down to back  to water. A fundamental part of the steam  cooling process is the cooling tower that keeps the condenser cool.


The water from under grown is normally contaminated with sulphuric acid, arsenic and other harmful minerals that must be removed from the water if it is pretended to be applied for industrial and agricultural uses. In many other instances the water is just fed back to ground without treatment  to the hot water reservoirs (hot water banks), in some other occasions part of the water is fed back and part is treated depending on contamination levels and economics. If water is abundant in the area it could not make sense to invest in water treatment systems and a better option is to just send it back to ground. Initially  the cost of a geothermal plant can be expensive depending on the depth and characteristics of the geothermal bank, the operation is normally highly financially competitive if well planed and administrated. If not properly designed and maintained a geothermal plant could be an ecological nightmare due to the contaminants. Done right a geothermal plant is a very good alternative energy option.






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