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A Geothermal Generator works on the same basic principle as a normal Generator does. It produces 20EU/t by consuming Lava (20k total EU per bucket) (10k EU per bucket as of IC2E) from any source: liquid pipes, lava buckets, or Lava Cells. The latter are stackable and thus require less maintenance, but cost Tin to produce.
As with all Generators, the lava-based fuel of choice is inserted into the lower slot, and optionally an RE-Battery in the upper slot. The Geothermal Generator will charge the battery or output power at a rate of 20 EU/t using 2mB/t of lava.
A single Geothermal Generator can store 24 units of lava internally and another stack of 64 lava cells will wait in the fuel queue until needed or removed by player - thus, inserting a full stack of Lava Cells will instantly use up 24 of them and fill out the lava gauge. Like the furnace, the Geothermal Generator does not consume the bucket when a lava bucket is used as fuel. It is returned to your inventory.
Because the Geothermal Generator can store a large amount of power on its own you don't need to bother with batboxes or an MFE in early game.
Internal Storage: 480,000 EU
Fuel Queue Storage: 1,280,000 EU
Total Storage: 1,760,000 EU
Input: Lava Buckets, Lava Cells, Waterproof Pipes, or placed next to a Pump
Output: 20,000 EU per Lava Bucket or Lava Cell at a rate of 20 EU/t
Strategies for Powering the Geothermal Generator
With BuildCraft installed, it is possible to pump Lava out of the Nether, from Volcanoes, or from a Lava lake (either above or underground) resulting in a stable and powerful source of power. With Thermal Expansion installed it is possible to create lava from Cobblestone or Netherrack using the Magma Crucible, converting 24,000 or 12,000 MJ, respectively, to 20,000 EU.
Also, with GregTech 4 installed, the Geothermal Generator is used in the recipe for the Thermal Generator. It is an improved version of the Geothermal Generator, producing 30,000 EU per bucket of lava at a rate of 24 EU per tick.
Using the Geothermal Generator with a connection to a Pump will provide an output of 30,000 EU instead of 20,000. For it to work properly, the Pump has to be above a lava source tile, and the Geothermal Generator needs to be touching the Pump.
Note: Though it gives an increased EU (30,000), there is still a 200 EU per operation cost for the pump. The Geothermal Generator will power the adjacent pump, for a total output of 29,800 EU per lava source tile.
The BuildCraft Pump has an advantage over the IC2 Pump in that it does not need to be placed directly above the drained liquid, automatically extending its siphon into the medium. However, as a BuildCraft machine, it requires MJ instead of EU; this is normally accomplished by attaching Magmatic Engines to the Pump, so the Pump supplies the Engines and vice-versa. Like the IC2 Pump however a bit of Lava is needed to start the engines and begin operation.