UK’s First Geothermal Steam Based Power Plant

UK’s First Geothermal Steam Based Power Plant


In this post, we would know what geothermal power, its types, production, and environmental impacts are. UK’s first geothermal steam-based power plant on the United down Industrial Estate in Cornwall is a great instance of renewability, sustainability, and power plant with zero Carbon Emissions.

At the plant site, drilling began two years ago with two wells 4.5 km into the rock below somewhere the rock’s temperature is up to 200 centigrade. Water is at that time pumped from the surface. The steam made from this added water is then fed over a heat exchanger at the surface. Water is re-added into the ground to pick up more heat from the rocks in an incessant cycle. The steam is then fed to a steam turbine for electricity generation. Electrical power is next provided to the National Grid.

What is geothermal power?

Geothermal energy may be the thermal energy in the Earth’s crust. It creates from the materialization of the planet and from radioactive decay of materials in currently uncertain but possibly roughly equal proportions. The high temperature and pressure in Earth’s inland ground some rock to melt and solid mantle to act plastically. It results in parts of the mantle connecting rising. Since it is lighter than the surrounding rock and temperatures at the core-mantle boundary can reach over 4000 °C.


Geothermal energy is categorized as a renewable resource as the tapped heat from an active reservoir is constantly restored by natural heat production. It is taken on conduction and convection from nearby hotter regions. The dig-out geothermal fluid is refilled with natural recharge and by injection of the exhausted or cooled fluids. Geothermal turfs are naturally operated at production rates. That source local failures in pressure and in temperature in the interior of the reservoir over the economic life of the installed services. These chiller and lower-pressure zones are then recharged from nearby regions when extraction stops.

Geothermal power may be electrical power produced from geothermal energy. Technologies in use contain;

  • Dry steam power stations,
  • Flash steam power stations
  • Binary cycle power stations.
Schematic diagram of Geothermal condensing steam power plant

Geothermal condensing steam power plant

Schematic diagram of Binary-cycle power plant
Binary-cycle power plant

Currently, Geothermal electricity is being generated and used in 26 countries. The United States is the leading producer of geothermal energy in the world.

Types of Geothermal energy

There are two forms of geothermal energy:

  • Liquid-dominated Plants
  • Enhanced geothermal systems

Liquid Dominated Plants​

Liquid-dominated reservoirs (LDRs) are added commonly by means of temperatures greater than 200 °C. These are originated near fresh volcanoes close to the Pacific Ocean and in rift zones and hot spots. Flash plants are the normal method to make electricity from these sources. Pumps are usually not obligatory, power is in its place when the water turns to steam. Most wells produce 2 to10 MW of electricity. Steam is parted from a liquid through cyclone separators. Though, the liquid is payback in the reservoir for reheating.

Enhanced Geothermal Systems​

Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) vigorously add water into wells to be heated and pumped back out. The water is introduced below high pressure to enlarge current rock fissures to allow the water to freely flow in and out. This method was modified from oil and gas extraction techniques. Though the geologic formations are bottomless and no toxic chemicals are used. This decreases the option of environmental harm. Drillers may employ guiding drilling to expand the size of the reservoir.

Environmental impacts

There are minor negative environmental impacts related to geothermal energy use. Hot fluid production may emit fluctuating amounts of GHGs that are normally small. These are created from naturally sourced CO2 changes. These would sooner or later be released into the atmosphere through natural surface venting. The misuse of geothermal energy does not eventually generate any additional CO2 from the subsurface as there is no combustion process. However, the rate of natural emissions can be different by geothermal production liable on the plant configuration.

Water is not a restraining factor for geothermal power generation. As geothermal fluids are generally brined. Flash power plants do not ingest potable water for cooling and return condensed water. That may, by good treatment, be used for agricultural and industrial drives. Binary power plants can reduce their water use with air cooling. Hot water from geothermal sources can hold in solution trace quantities of toxic elements for example mercury, arsenic, boron, and antimony. These chemicals precipitous by way of the water cools and may source environmental impairment if unconfined. The recent run-through of injecting cooled geothermal fluids back into the Earth to arouse production has the side advantage of decreasing this environmental risk.

Potential contrary effects from disposal of geothermal fluids and gases, fortified seismicity, and ground subsidence may be reduced by sound practices. Decent practice can likewise enhance water and land use, develop long-term sustainability of production. This can protect natural thermal features that are appreciated by the community.

Mansoor Ahmed is Chemical Engineer, web developer, a writer currently living in Pakistan. My interests range from technology to web development. I am also interested in programming, writing, and reading.
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