Clean Energy: IIT-Led Team Unearths Potential Of India’s Western Ghat Geysers
Our universe is a sea of energy - free, clean energy. It is all out there waiting for us to set sail upon it - Robert Adams
Fossil fuels have been a source of energy since long. Not only does it play an important part in polluting our planet but also it's supply is limited. That's the reason why scientist are working hard on finding different renewable sources of energy also known as Clean energy. Renewable source of energy is procuring energy from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves etc. The good news is we have enough clean energy to power every home and never have to depend on fossil fuels ever again.
India being rich in natural resources be it solar, hydro, wind etc is slowly and steadily becoming a pioneer in clean and renewable energy. India is running one of the largest and most ambitious renewable capacity expansion programs and hopes to achieve 40% of its total electricity generation from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.
What is Geothermal Energy?
The new addition to the list of renewable energy is Geothermal energy procured from hot springs or geysers. Geothermal is made of two Greek words – geo which means ‘earth’, and therme, which means ‘heat’. Thus, geothermal energy is the heat from the earth. It is a very nascent clean and renewable source of energy and many countries including India are investing in it. Recently, a step in that direction was taken by Department of Earth Sciences at IIT-Bombay led by Trupti Chandrashekhar, along with collaborators from IIT-Hyderabad, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology (Amethi), and the University of Florence (Italy), the team studied the entire 350-km stretch along the state’s coastline where these natural geysers can be found in large numbers.
Geothermal Energy in Western Ghats
So far they have found over 60 hot water springs spread across 18 locations across the western ghats, which falls under the west coast geothermal province (WCGP), one of India’s seven geothermal areas. These hot springs are full of minerals, the temperature of water ranges between 40 and 72 degrees Celsius. Though the use of geysers is not new to the local population living in Maharashtra and the Konkan region, they use these hot springs not only as a source of water but also serve a medicinal purpose and hold religious importance.
With above findings a lot can be done to harness this natural system with a wide variety of commercial operations along the Maharashtrian coast. According to Trupti, "The west coast geothermal province serves as a ready platform for developing natural greenhouses (similar systems are in place at Turkey, Russia, Hungary, China and Italy), dehydration units for perishable food products (widely used in West Asia and the Schengen region), aquaculture centres and natural health spas (Wairakei, New Zealand, and Blue Lagoon, Iceland),” said Chandrashekhar to The Print.
She further adds that with this could lead to growth of secondary and tertiary industries which would create direct and indirect jobs. Along with that the heat generated can also be utilized for space cooling and space heating.
But most importantly, Geothermal energy being the cleanest and most sustainable sources of power, the hot water from these sources could be a good source for generating electricity. Geothermal energy is derived from the heat of the earth that can tapped using pumps dug through deep underground wells. According to these scientists, Maharashtra's topography makes it a perfect geothermal energy generator, because of its rain-intensive area with highly permeable rocky landscape, that has two nearly 600-km-long fault lines that runs along the coast.
While talking to The Print, Trupti said “The mid- and long-term development plan [for the region] could be centered on the use of geothermal energy for generating cheap, clean and base power generation systems, beginning with the drilling of 10-to-15-metre-deep exploration pits along the identified locations.” She even believes, “A good energy mix is the need of the hour,A source of geothermal energy can serve as a base load to power an eternal source of green energy. India has an immense potential for geothermal resource development, it generate over 10,000 MW (per day) of power using geothermal resources.”
Advantages and Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy.
In a space crunched country like India, Geothermal comes with lot of advantages :-
1. Unlike most power stations, a geothermal power plant does not create any pollution and geothermal energy can be used to produce electricity 24 hours a day. Thus, geothermal energy is an excellent source of clean, inexpensive and renewable energy.
2. It leaves behind no harmful by-products if harnessed correctly unlike fossil fuels and nuclear plants.
3. Its power plant is usually small and have little effect on the landscape or its environment.
4. As no fuel is used to generate the power, running costs for geothermal power plants are very low.
5. Last but not least, the cost of the land to build a geothermal power plant, is comparatively less to the cost of constructing an oil, gas, coal, or nuclear power plant.
Like others even this comes with couple of disadvantages.
1. If harnessed incorrectly, it can sometime produce pollutants. Improper drilling into the earth can release hazardous minerals and gases from deep down inside the earth. But they can be contained easily
2. Its longevity is frequently questioned as some believe power plant sites may run out of steam in the long run.
India is yet to tap on it's geothermal energy, so far it is all experimental. It is believed unlike most power stations, Geothermal power plants do not emit any pollution and geothermal energy can be used to produce electricity 24 hours a day. We hope government takes all the required steps to make this dream of becoming -- a pioneer in clean energy and becoming a 100% clean energy user-- true in coming years.
Picture Source: Down to Earth; Science Nordic; renewable-technology.net; wikipedia;
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