High Temperature Resources: Electricity
Hydrothermal resources at high temperatures (300 to 700 degrees
Fahrenheit) can be used to make electricity.
These high-temperature resources may come from either dry
steam wells or hot water wells. We can use these resources by
drilling wells into the Earth and piping the steam or hot water to
the surface. Geothermal wells are one to two miles deep.
In a dry steam power plant, the steam from the geothermal
reservoir is piped directly from a well to a turbine generator to
make electricity. In a hot water plant, some of the hot water is
turned into steam. The steam powers a turbine generator just like a
dry steam plant. When the steam cools, it condenses to water and
is injected back into the ground to be used over and over again.
Geothermal energy produces only a small percentage of U.S.
electricity. Today, it produces about 15 billion kilowatt-hours, or
less than one percent of the electricity produced in this country
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