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- Alternative Energy Assignment - Geothermal Energy.

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Year 11 Physics

 - Alternative Energy Assignment -

Geothermal Energy


By: Phillip Ridgway 11e

Due Date: 31/10/2003

Teacher: Mr Kopittke

For this assignment I have chosen to research the alternate energy source that is Geothermal Energy. Presently in Australia there have been three geothermal energy production sites, the only site still running is at Birdsville, which is approaching full time operation. However overseas there are a lot of countries, which have been more successful than us, as they have been using geothermal energy for quite some time due to more accessible resources.


Geothermal energy is the heat deep underneath the earth’s surface, which is used to produce electricity; this electricity is called geothermal power. There are a few different ways of harnessing this potential resource; the first is mainly implemented in the United States of America and in New Zealand where there are naturally occurring geysers. The process involves harnessing the heat of the water, which is spurt out through the geysers, and passed through a heat-energy transformer. The other main process that is most likely to be implemented in Australia is HDR or Hot Dry Rock.


The concept of Hot Dry Rock involves the process of drilling holes some three to five kilometres

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This shaft is connected to a generator. The shaft drives a rotating coil of wire through a magnetic field. As the wire moves through the magnetic field the electrons that are free to move will experience a force along the length of the wire. As these electrons move from one end of the wire to the other, each end is left with a net excess of electrons or neutrons, this leads to the production of an electromotive force or EMF across the ends of the wire. From this current can flow in an external circuit. This relates to Faraday’s Law, which is:

After the hot steam rises to the top of the turbine it is cooled, condensed and flows back down a much longer pipe which takes the water closer down to the hot dry rock where the same process is continuously repeated to generate more electricity.

The efficiency of these power stations depends on which type you look at. For instance the ORC or Organic Rankine Cycle engine is used in many geothermal sites around the world, however when one was used in Mulka in South Australia in bad times (when hot weather was experienced) the output of the ORC engine was limited and the capacity became a mere 10kW at any one time in the year of 1994.

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In conclusion geothermal power is effective and efficient, as can be seen in the case history of geothermal power plants and the relatively simple processes involved. It is a large potential energy source, which one-day could be powering our homes and workplaces. A key point is that it is a renewable source of energy with a large amount of potential in Australia. And one of the most important things it is an alternative energy source, meaning that it is not going to fill our world with pollutants that will harm the world, which God has provided us with.


  1. Bassett, A (1999) Geothermal Power is it Reliable? (Internet) Utah: Institute of Technology in Utah. Available from: http://www.egi.utah.edu/geothermal/brochure/Power/Reliability/reliability.htm(Accessed 15 October 2003)
  1. Burns et al. (2000) Status of the Geothermal Industry in Australia. (Internet) Barcaldine: Ergon Energy. Available from: http://iga.igg.cnr.it/pdf/0559.PDF (Accessed 12 October 2003)
  1. Graham, I. (1998) Energy Forever? Geothermal and Bio-Energy. East Sussex: Wayland Publishers Ltd.
  1. Snelling, R (2001) Geothermal Energy Around the World. (Internet) Wikipedia: New Zealand Government. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbine(Accessed 16 October 2003)
  1. Walding et al. (1999) New Century Senior Physics. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

By: Phillip Ridgway 11E        -  -        Physics Assignment Term 4

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