Friday, June 15, 2018

USA, California: The Heat Below the Salton Sea Geothermal Field

Hawaii's volcanoes are erupting. Do you know about the active volcano near California's Salton Sea? (The Desert Sun)

Volcanoes are not only potentially disruptive to the state's system of energy distribution, they can also act as power sources themselves.

The Salton Buttes sit on top of the largest geothermal field in the world, according to Alex Schriener, an associate geologist at geotechnical engineering company Earth Systems and former employee of CalEnergy.

CalEnergy owns 10 geothermal facilities in the Imperial Valley, with the capacity to produce 338 megawatts of power, according to the company website.

"All geothermal plants work on a similar principle," said Schriener. In the case of the Imperial Valley power plants, hot water is pulled from the ground, decompressed –meaning it is turned into steam in a low-pressure tank – and that steam is then used to run a turbine, translating the geothermal energy into electric power.

The geothermal field that sits below the Salton Buttes is not only the largest in the world, it is also one of the hottest. "Some wells are hotter than 600 degrees Fahrenheit," Schriener said. "Pretty darn hot."

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