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Geothermal energy

Geothermal Energy Pros And Cons

geothermal power plant in Iceland

Geothermal energy can be defined as the thermal energy provided by the Earth’s core, which reaches the surface under the form of hot water and steam.

What Is Geothermal Energy?

Geothermal energy is considered today a renewable energy source because the underground heat provided by the Earth’s core is a continuous source of power.

The Earth’s core seems to be hotter 10,800 °F (6,000 °C) than the surface of the Sun, and all this heat is sent from the inner core through the mantle and up to the crust (the surface of the planet).

The heat of the Earth’s inner core is mostly generated by two main sources, such as: the radiogenic heat and the primordial heat.

The radiogenic heat is generated by the radioactive decay of the isotopes in the mantle and the crust, while the primordial heat is only a remnant of the process that formed the planet.

The heat travels about four thousand miles from the inner core to the surface of the planet, and becomes colder.

The underground rock and water is heated this way and can reach a temperature up to 700 °F (370 °C).

In ancient times, the underground hot water was used to fed stone pools, but today, geothermal energy is used for heating and cooling homes and buildings, and also to generate clean electricity.

The main countries that are producing clean electricity using geothermal energy are the following: the U.S., Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, Italy, New Zealand, Iceland, Japan, Iran, El Salvador, Kenya, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Pros Of Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy has more pros than cons, which makes it very suitable for our energy needs.

1. Geothermal power is an environmentally friendly energy source

Geothermal energy is a natural source of power that does not require the use of fossil fuels for its extraction or for electricity generation.

Geothermal energy is available in certain areas of the planet (in the countries mentioned above) and to produce electricity, a geothermal power plant will drill a hole down to the hot water source in order to bring the very hot water and the steam up to the surface.

The steam is then used to spin a turbine that will produce clean electricity using generators.

2. Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source

The underground heat, which is the source of the geothermal energy is generated continuously by the Earth’s inner core that is even hotter than the Sun’s surface.

The underground heat produced by the inner core of the planet has been here since the beginning of the Earth, and will last a few more billion years (until the Earth will be destroyed by the Sun), which compared to our time here on the planet can be considered an endless source of clean power.

3. Geothermal energy is a stable source of clean power

Being a stable source of power, geothermal energy is used to produce clean electricity that is sent into the grid.

Other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind cannot be sent directly into the grid because they represent discontinuous sources of power.

Geothermal energy is a stable and continuous source of clean electricity that is generated day and night in the geothermal power plants and is sent to the grid to power homes, buildings and businesses.

4. Geothermal energy represents an abundant supply of clean power

The underground heat is generated by the inner core of the planet, which means that this source of clean power is not only renewable and clean, but is also an abundant and stable supply of clean energy.

5. Geothermal energy represents a natural source of heat and energy

In countries with large reservoirs of geothermal energy, the underground water and steam are used to produce clean electricity, to heat and cool homes and buildings, and also to feed large swimming pools where people can bath in a very relaxing natural environment.

The hot water used to feed these large swimming pools (like the Blue Lagoon in Iceland), is actually a by-product of the power plant that uses the geothermal reservoir to generate clean electricity.

6. Geothermal energy has a massive potential to generate clean power on the planet

Estimates say that geothermal energy has the potential to generate up to 2 TW of clean electricity every year, but to be able to harvest the entire potential of this power source we need more investments in the field.

7. Geothermal energy is available on the entire planet

Geothermal energy is available almost everywhere on the planet because the underground heat is surrounding the entire planet.

However, some countries have great reservoirs of geothermal energy that are located very close to the surface, while others need to drill deeply (a few miles deep) to reach the underground reservoirs of clean power.

8. Geothermal energy is a free source of clean power

Geothermal energy represents a free source of clean power because is not related to any type of fossil fuels.

The price of fossil fuels can go up and down, but the price of geothermal power will remain the same and may even drop if the electricity generation capacity from geothermal energy will increase.

Geothermal energy represents a free source of clean power because is not related to any type of fossil fuels or renewable energy sources.

The price of fossil fuels can go up and down, the outside weather could be sunny or cloudy, but the price of geothermal power will remain the same and may even drop if the electricity generation capacity from geothermal energy will increase.

9. Geothermal energy generates technological innovation in the field

The technology used to produce clean electricity from geothermal energy is being improved periodically and becomes more efficient in time.

A massive increase in generation capacity, will only improve the technology used to produce clean electricity from geothermal power.

10. Geothermal power plants have a minimal landscape footprint

A geothermal power plant is mostly built underground, which means that this energy source has a small landscape footprint.

Cons Of Geothermal Energy

1. Installing a geothermal system has high upfront costs

Installing a geothermal system for heating and cooling could have an upfront cost between $10,000 and $20,000.

Besides this, installing a geothermal system today is no longer eligible for tax credits because geothermal heat pumps have been added to section 25D of the Internal Revenue Code, which has provided a 30% tax credit for installations of such systems made between 1/1/2008 and 12/31/2016.

Systems installed in 2017 are no longer eligible for tax credits.

2. Operating a geothermal system still requires electricity

Using a geothermal heat pump will consume electricity, which will increase the electricity bill.

To become 100% green at home, installing a solar panel system will produce enough energy to power your geothermal heat pump and also a few household appliances.

3. Geothermal power plants could produce earthquakes

If the hot water source is not close to the surface, installing a geothermal power plant requires soil excavation and drilling deep wells to reach the hot water supply.

The technique used to drill the wells is similar to the technique used in hydraulic fracturing, which fractures the rock and can cause earthquakes in the area.

4. Geothermal systems are mostly suited for new homes

If you build a new house you can choose a geothermal system because the excavations will be made along with the construction, but in the case of an older building, installing such a system will require a retrofit of the house and deep excavations.

5. A geothermal system could cause damage to tree roots and underground animals

Excavating the soil to install a geothermal system could damage the roots of the trees in the area and could also affect the life of the animals that live underground.

Final conclusion

There are some disadvantages related to geothermal energy, but being a clean and renewable energy source that works 24/7, we can say that this natural resource of the planet can help us reduce the use of fossil fuels for a cleaner environment.

Article written by:

I write about the renewable energy sector, electric cars and climate change issues. I love nature and good food, so I travel all over the world to see new places and meet new people. Magda Savin


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