It is a historical fact that North America’s earliest Indians constructed towns around hot springs 10,000 years ago.
These natives used easily accessible hot water sources for cooking, bathing, and staying warm.
Primitive humans had been tapping into the vast store of our planet’s interior heat without realizing it!
Today, climate warming and the energy crises have made the transition to renewable energy more urgent than ever.
We’re all acquainted with solar, wind, and hydropower, which already account for a significant portion of the world’s renewable energy landscape. But what about geothermal energy?
Geothermal energy, a renewable source formed within the globe, is another green alternative. It is a renewable energy source created by heat escaping from the core of the Earth.
This source was formed during the planet’s creation and is kept in molten rocks and fluids in the Earth’s core.
While geothermal energy is straightforward and advantageous, the process is riddled with flaws and mistakes.
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Geothermal energy pros
Geothermal energy provides many advantages over conventional fuels such as oil, gas, and coal since it is a relatively clean and sustainable energy source. Let us now look at the significant pros of geothermal energy.
1. No Emissions
Geothermal energy comes last in negatively impacting the environment from the energy production process.
Geothermal energy either takes internal heat from the Earth or discharges heat from your property into the Earth.
It is a plentiful resource that considerably minimizes carbon emissions and does not demand fossil fuel.
The process of producing thermal electricity from geothermal sources produces no emissions (zero carbon footprint).
However, developing a geothermal power plant may result in some emissions. The geothermal power plant has an almost zero carbon footprint.
An average geothermal power plant emits 99% less carbon dioxide (CO2) per megawatt-hour (MWh) energy.
2. Stable And Predictable
Unlike solar radiation shifts and wind power direction or speed, the Earth’s temperature remains predictable and steady though weather patterns change.
Irrespective of weather or season fluctuations, geothermal energy plants will generate power 24/7 for a whole year.
Because of its dependability, this alternative energy is an excellent reliable source for generating base-load electricity.
3. Renewable And Long-lasting
Geothermal energy is a renewable (limitless), sustainable, long-lasting, and cleaner energy source powered by Earth’s center.
In reality, it is believed that less than 0.7% of the United States geothermal resources have been used.
The water cycle pumps back, warms, and reuses the liquid H2O, so geothermal energy from hot water reservoirs is sustainable.
As enhanced geothermal system (EGS) technology advances, more people’s base-load energy demand will be fulfilled by accessing these power sources.
Geothermal technology includes pumping water into underground rocks to reopen cracks and boost hot water and steam delivery into extraction wells.
4. Free Hot Water Production
A further benefit is that geothermal systems may provide some, if not all, of your hot water more efficiently than traditional methods.
An easy and quick adjustment to the geothermal system enables it to provide hot water that can be retained in your water heater for subsequent use.
The water heater receives heat from the building during the cooling period rather than the ground, ensuring that you will always have free hot water as long as the geothermal system operates.
5. Low Maintenance Efforts And Costs
Low maintenance requirements and operating costs are other benefits of a geothermal heat pump.
Ground source heat pumps are less susceptible to severe weather events like thunderstorms than wind or solar energy systems since numerous operations related to geothermal power are carried out below the surface.
Those intense occurrences may not impact a geothermal plant, but solar panels or wind generators may be damaged or ruined.
6. Small Land Use
Other types of sustainable sources of energy, such as solar plants and wind farms, require ample space for high-energy production.
In contrast, a geothermal energy setup only needs 7 square miles (2.6 square kilometers) of surface area per terawatt hour (TWh).
A solar plant takes between 10 and 24 square miles to produce the same amount of energy as a wind farm, which requires 28 square miles.
Solar and wind energy facilities require 2-4 times the space to produce electricity of the same capacity.
Geothermal energy, as opposed to surface factors such as the sun and wind, is powered by a continuous supply of underground energy.
Drilled wells can be stretched out beneath the Earth to maximize output while reducing habitat loss and environmental impact.
7. Almost No Noise Pollution
The fundamentals of geothermal functioning are the same as freezers or refrigerators.
It works silently and is a good strategy for keeping a good relationship with your neighbors!
Loud noise from traditional heating and cooling apparatus can annoy you or your neighbors and cause unneeded arguments.
Geothermal energy Cons
Geothermal energy systems provide some advantages over less sustainable alternatives.
However, there are also drawbacks due to financial and environmental expenses, such as high water demand and geographical limitations:
1. Environmental Side Effects
Regrettably, geothermal energy creates several environmental concerns. Retrieving geothermal energy from the Earth results in hydrogen sulfide production, which is not pleasant for humans.
Obtaining geothermal energy harms the environment by releasing greenhouse gases such as hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and methane.
Nevertheless, compared to fossil fuels, the gas released is substantially smaller. These emissions are often higher in the vicinity of geothermal power facilities.
Sulfur dioxide and silica appear to be released by geothermal power facilities, and reservoirs may include toxic and heavy metals such as arsenic, boron, mercury, etc.
Nevertheless, the pollution from geothermal energy is not as severe as pollution from coal power and fossil fuels.
2. Geographical limits
Geothermal activity is most significant near the Earth’s crust’s tectonic fault boundaries, where the energy is more prevalent.
The disadvantage is that just a few nations can use geothermal heating resources.
As a result of their geographical characteristics, the following nations are the leading producers of geothermal energy: the United States, Iceland, Kenya, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Mexico.
Because not everyone can count on geothermal energy, it is doubtful that it will account for most future energy sources as we transition away from fossil fuels.
3. Seismic Instability
Even though it may sound strange, geothermal energy has been attributed to earthquakes.
There is evidence that geothermal constructions have produced subsurface tremors in several places on the planet.
Seismic activity, while typically modest, can cause structural damage, casualties, and tragedy.
Thus, to avoid this type of natural tragedy, various alternative fuels may be favored over geothermal energy, particularly in places already prone to earthquakes.
4. Expensive Construction
High initial costs are required for geothermal power facilities.
Although Geothermal energy infrastructures have low running expenses, installation costs may be significantly greater than coal, oil, and gas plants.
Most of these expenditures are for prospecting and drilling geothermal energy potential.
Investigation or drilling are not required for traditional power plants rendering them a cheaper option.
Furthermore, geothermal power plants need designed heating and cooling systems and other temperature-resistant equipment.
Geothermal power plants are long-term investments, and because geothermal energy is an infinite supply, they will eventually be more affordable than fossil fuel plants.
5. Odor Nuisance
Because geothermal power facilities generate specific gases with disagreeable stench, surrounding inhabitants may experience significant olfactory annoyance.
Real estate prices in locations near geothermal power plants may also fall.
Even if geothermal power produces less visual pollution than other alternative energy, such as wind, it can still harm the general population due to unpleasant odors.
6. Water Intensive
Large volumes of water must be used to cool various geothermal power production instruments.
Because water will become a scarce resource in the future due to global warming, particularly in our planet’s southern hemisphere, the spread of geothermal energy may face significant challenges.
7. Sustainability Problems
One of the disadvantages of geothermal energy is its environmental impact.
After torrential rainfall, water escapes through the Earth’s surface and into geothermal reservoirs.
These reservoirs’ water temperatures may cool down with time, rendering them incapable of producing geothermal energy in the future.
Researchers discovered that geothermal reservoirs might be wiped out if fluid is taken faster than supply.
Summary (pros and cons of geothermal energy)
|Stable And Predictable|
|Renewable And Long-lasting|
|Free Hot Water Production|
|Low Maintenance Efforts And Costs|
|Small Land Use|
|Almost No Noise Pollution|
|Environmental Side Effects|
Because of its reliability and efficiency, Geothermal energy production is fantastic.
The main line is that these renewable energy resources are often viewed as ecologically beneficial, long-lasting, and dependable.
In certain regions, geothermal energy is a no-brainer, but high upfront costs prevent us from reaching its full potential.
In the future, we can expect safer and more effective Geothermal energy harness as technology advances and may become more commonly employed.
(Last Updated on October 10, 2022)