As part of promoting non-conventional energy, the government is setting up its first geothermal power project in Ladakh, according to the Authotrities. Among the various new and renewable energy options, geothermal energy is recognized as the cleanest, without smoke or environmental hazards.
Currently worldwide, about 10,715 megawatts (MW) of geothermal power is generated in nearly 24 countries. Italy, New Zealand, USA, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Indonesia are some of the countries which are using geothermal energy for electricity generation and thermal applications. Exploration of geothermal fields needs knowledge of geology, geochemistry, seismology, hydrology and reservoir engineering. In India, exploration and study of geothermal fields started in 1970. The GSI (Geological Survey of India) has identified 350 geothermal energy locations in the country. As per a 2005 report in International Association for Ladakh Studies, The Pugas valley in the Changthang area of Leh offers the best solution to the ever-looming power crisis in Ladakh. The estimated potential for geothermal energy in India is about 10000 MW.
What is Geothermal Energy
In simple words ‘Geo’ means earth and ‘thermal’ means heat. Thus geothermal energy is that heat energy obtained from hot rocks present inside the earth, and this can be used as a source of energy to produce electricity. From the surface down through the crust, the normal temperature gradient( the increase of temperature with the increase of depth ) in the Earth’s crust is 17 °C — 30 °C per kilometre of depth (50 °F — 87 °F per mile).
Some features of Geothermal energy:
- Geothermal energy is almost pollution-free.
- Geothermal plants can operate round the clock, unlike those based on solar and tidal energy.
- The cost of a geothermal plant is high as compared to a coal-based plant, but operating costs are lower.
- The source of energy is free and renewable In India, there are about 400 hot springs that can be tapped for geothermal energy. Ladakh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have good geothermal-energy potential. It is estimated that 10,000 MW of electricity can be generated from geothermal plants in India.
If implemented perfectly Geothermal Energy can be a good option for India’s rapidly increasing energy requirements, but still a lot of research and studies is required.
(Sources : worldenergy.org, Geological survey of India )