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Arizona Experience Store

How a Geothermal Power Plant Works

How a Geothermal Power Plant Works (Simple)

Most power plants—whether fueled by coal, gas, nuclear power, or geothermal energy—have one feature in common: they convert heat to electricity. Heat from the earth, or geothermal — geo (earth) + thermal (heat) — energy is accessed by drilling water or steam wells in a process similar to drilling for oil. Geothermal power plants have much in common with traditional power-generating stations. They use many of the same components, including turbines, generators, transformers, and other standard power generating equipment. While there are three types of geothermal power plants, this animation shows a generic plant.

Click on the different components of the plant (well, turbine, generator or transmission) to see how a geothermal power plant generates energy.

Information and interactive graphic from U.S. DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).