Croatian Geothermal Project Provides Endless Clean Energy

Croatian geothermal project will provide endless clean energy for Citizens and reduce the demand for expensive imported coal.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Croatian geothermal project will provide endless clean energy for Citizens and reduce the demand for expensive imported coal. Image Unsplash.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Croatian geothermal project will provide endless clean energy for Croatian citizens and reduce the demand for expensive and dirty imported coal.

Croatia recently made an exciting discovery that could provide clean, renewable energy to tens of thousands of homes. Deep below the surface, energy company Bukotermal found an underground lake of piping hot water – over 140°C! This natural geothermal resource can generate electricity sustainably without any carbon emissions.

Geothermal energy harnesses the heat inside the Earth to produce power. Just a couple kilometers down, the rocks are so hot they boil water. Bringing this naturally heated water to the surface allows Croatian geothermal companies like Bukotermal to turn it into electricity.

To generate electricity, companies first drill wells deep into the Earth’s crust to access reservoirs of hot underground water. Heavy-duty pumps are installed in the wells to bring the superheated water to the surface. This water can reach incredibly high temperatures of over 140°C due to the geothermal heat from the Earth’s core.

Once on the surface, the hot pressurized water gets piped into a geothermal power plant. There, it gets sprayed into a flash tank, which causes it to turn into steam. This high-pressure steam then gets routed into turbines, which start spinning from the force of the steam. These rapidly spinning turbines turn electromagnets within mechanical generators, producing an electric current. This electricity then gets fed into the power grid to be distributed for use.

The process is similar to how coal, natural gas and nuclear plants use steam turbines to produce electricity. But there is an important difference – geothermal energy does not burn any fuels, so it doesn’t directly emit greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. The steam is created through natural heating from the Earth’s geothermal activity. This makes Croatian geothermal power a renewable and sustainable energy source.

After spinning the turbines, the steam loses pressure and condenses back into water. This cooler water gets pumped back into the underground geothermal reservoir to be reheated, creating a sustainable closed-loop system. Unlike fossil fuels consumed through combustion, the water is never contaminated and can be continuously reused.

The Croatian geothermal lake found by Bukotermal is located at a depth of 2.4 km. The water temperature averages 142°C – plenty hot enough to produce plenty of steam to spin electricity-generating turbines.

Bukotermal estimates the natural underground reservoir can support a Croatian geothermal power plant producing 16 megawatts of electricity. That’s enough to supply power to tens of thousands of regional households!

Constructing the entire 16-megawatt plant is expected to cost around €50 million. But once built, the plant can provide clean energy to the surrounding communities for decades. And because the Earth’s natural heat fuels it, there’s no need to burn polluting fossil fuels.

The discovery comes as Croatia aims to ramp up its geothermal energy capabilities. The country sits atop a geologically active region with abundant hot underground water. Experts estimate Croatia’s geothermal resources could provide a third of its electricity.

Currently, Croatia gets most of its power by burning imported coal, oil, and natural gas. Croatian geothermal energy offers a renewable alternative right under their feet. Croatia built its first geothermal power plant in 2019, a 10-megawatt facility in the northeastern town of Velika Ciglena.

However, drilling the deep wells required can be risky and expensive for geothermal projects. This often scares away investors, unsure if they’ll hit hot enough waters.

To reduce these risks and costs, new Croatian geothermal projects are now tapping existing wells previously drilled for oil and gas exploration. Since the holes are already there, developers save significantly on upfront costs.

The country recently awarded five licenses for companies to explore geothermal potential using these legacy wells. The licenses are valued at over €40 million.

Bukotermal now has six months to formally propose a plan to harness the geothermal waters in the newly discovered underground lake. If all goes smoothly, construction on the new 16-megawatt power plant could begin within two years.

The project would provide clean, renewable power and heating to Croatian communities for decades to come. It demonstrates how countries can tap into the free natural energy beneath their feet. Croatian geothermal power offers sustainable electricity around the clock, regardless of weather conditions above ground.

As climate change accelerates, countries like Croatia are wise to leverage their geothermal resources. The Earth itself offers bountiful renewable energy if we simply make use of its natural heat. Projects like this help pave the way to a greener, cooler planet.

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