Before understanding what a geothermal power plant is, there is a need to define what geothermal power concerns. Geothermal energy is a nonconventional supply of power which has many advantages to the world, particularly given that the energy is completely renewable, can supply regular, continuous power, and only requires only naturally present water and the heat generated from the earth’s core.
That clear, a geothermal power plant is a technology that is used to extract a portion of geothermal energy in the form of steam to drive turbines. The cost and efficiency that is associated with geothermal energy production today are quickly beginning to match that of traditional power sources, which explains why many utilities and companies are all out looking for ways to capitalize on this new technology.
Why geothermal power plant monitoring is essential
Where there is such an incredible resource to tap into, there is a need to find a monitoring technique to keep the geothermal power plants in check. Other than that, there is the reason that this kind of energy is extremely explosive to harsh environmental conditions, such as extreme heat and vibration.
There is also the fact that the water that is pumped from underground contains high levels of harmful chemicals like sulfur. Besides, some power stations have a loop air system, which emits gases from the extraction well, like hydrogen sulfide, known to smell like rotten eggs. That is not so much of a problem until the hydrogen sulfide comes in contact with the oxygen in the air and changes into sulfur dioxide that is known to cause heart and lung disease, acidifying the soil, among other ills.
If the power plant is not well monitored, you can expect that the affected water and air will be returned into the environment and pose a threat to the human race. It is why a monitoring solution is required to keep tabs of the performance, by creating a safe environment a reliable detection solution to monitor the plant area for any potential threats, including, pentane gas leak.
Technology for geothermal power plant monitoring
Ideally, most of the geothermal power plants are constructed at high altitudes near volcanoes, where there are natural hot springs, or in hilly areas, where high-temperature geothermal resources are available near the surface. Since most of these areas are located in remote areas, the detection technology used for monitoring the power plant must be very robust to access such areas, not to mention, come with minimum maintenance requirements. Also, the technology should be monitored regularly using tools such as VPN monitoring to prevent snooping eyes from interfering with the system. At the least of things, the technology used to monitor the power plants must be categorically effective, mostly to avoid wasting the valuable energy that is usually generated onsite.
Basic designs for the geothermal power stations
There are three basic designs for the geothermal power stations, including:
- Dry steam – the steam generated goes directly from the ground to the turbine
- Flash steam – hot water is de-pressurized into steam, which then dives to the turbine
- Binary cycle – hot water is used to heat a secondary liquid, one with the lower boiling point than water
The binary cycle is much more preferred because, using the secondary liquid allows for the production process to be varied so that it can be increased or decreased multiple times each day. For this reason, the energy produced can match the actual demand.
Factors to monitor in a geothermal power station
Several factors about the weather in the location of the geothermal power plants must be monitored. Technology is used to record the ambient condition of the area, more particularly to keep track of the wind speed and direction. Mastering the speed and direction of the wind in these areas is particularly important as a means of control. Technically, the general wind conditions must be monitored to make sure that the emissions from the power plant are not being carried by the wind to other areas of the population, for example, a local town or city. Other factors of the wind to be monitored include the humidity, temperature, and solar radiation.
As stated earlier in this text, the quality of water from the power plants should carefully be monitored as it can be the carrier of harmful chemicals to the environment. To maintain environmental compliances, all outflows are checked for the water quality.
Like with water, air can be contaminated with extreme gases that are harmful to both plants and humans to consume. Therefore, the power plant monitoring usually involves gas monitoring equipment to measure noxious gases such as Carbon monoxide, Carbon dioxide, Nitrogen Oxide, Hydrogen Sulphide, Sulfur dioxide, as well as Oxygen and Nitrogen.
Overall, geothermal power is an excellent resource in the world, but without proper control and monitoring, the energy thereof can have severe consequences to the environment and the human species. It is why manufacturers and developers are dedicating a lot of time and resources to keep improving the technology that can be used to tap these power sources without endangering the human species whatsoever.