Advantages and Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy: Geothermal Energy is a source of energy that is sustainable and renewable and still majorly untapped. As a resource that is environmentally friendly, it has the potential of meeting the cooling, heating, and electricity demands of the future. There are a number of pros of geothermal energy but on the other hand, some challenges that have to be overcome for fully exploiting this natural resource.
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What is Geothermal Energy? Advantages and Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy 2021
Geothermal energy is the heat that is released from the Earth’s sub-surface. It is stored within the rocks and the fluids beneath the crust of the Earth and can also be excavated as far down as the hot molten rock, magma of the Earth.
For generating power from the geothermal energy, wells have to be dug for about a mile deep into the underground reservoirs for accessing the steams and hot water present there, which is going to be used for operating turbines connected to the electricity generators. There are three variations of geothermal energy plants – flash, dry steam, and binary.
Geothermal energy is believed to be currently one of the most advantageous energy sources. Apart from being a renewable source of energy, is also available in most areas, outshining even some conventional energy sources in many aspects.
- Advantages of Geothermal Energy
- Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy
- Comparison Table for Advantages and Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy
- FAQs on Pros and Cons of Geothermal Energy
Advantages of Geothermal Energy
- Environmentally Friendly: Geothermal energy is more environmentally friendly than any conventional fuel source like coal or other fossil fuels. In addition to this, the geothermal power plant has a low carbon footprint. Even though there is little pollution associated with the use of geothermal energy, this is relatively lesser when compared to fossil fuels.
- Renewable: Geothermal energy is a renewable source of energy that is going to last until our planet is being destroyed by the sun in about 5 billion years. The hot reservoirs inside the Earth are naturally being replenished, making it both sustainable and renewable.
- Huge Potential: The consumption of energy around the world is currently at 15 terawatts, which is way greater than the total potential energy producible from any of the geothermal sources. While we humans at the moment can’t use most reservoirs there is a chance that the number of exploitable geothermal resources are going to increase with ongoing research and development in this industry. It has currently been estimated that geothermal energy plants can provide power between 0.0035 and 2 terawatts.
- Sustainable / Stable: Geothermal energy offers a sustainable source of energy in comparison to other renewable resources such as wind and solar power. The reason is these resources are always available to be tapped into, unlike solar or wind energy.
- Heating and Cooling: The proper use of geothermal energy for electricity production needs water temperatures of over 150°C for driving the turbines. On the other hand, the difference of temperature between the surface and the ground source is going to be used. As the ground gives more resistance to the seasonal changes of heat in comparison to air, it is going to act as a heat sink or heat source with a geothermal heat pump that is two meters under the surface.
- Reliable: The energy that is being generated from the geothermal resources can easily be calculated as it does not fluctuate in a similar manner as the various other energy sources, like wind or solar. This implies that we can predict the power output from a geothermal source with a high degree of accuracy.
- No Fuel Needed: As geothermal energy is a resource that naturally happens there is no fuel required, like with fossil fuels which are finite resources that need mining or else extracting from the earth.
- Rapid Evolution: There is a huge deal of exploration into geothermal energy sources at the moment, implying that new technologies are being developed to improve the process of energy. There is an immense number of projects for improving and growing this area of the industry. With this exponential growth, many of the cons for geothermal energy is going to be mitigated.
Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy
- Location Restricted: The greatest single disadvantage of geothermal energy is that it is specific to location. Geothermal plants have to be set up in places where the energy can be accessible, which implies that a few areas are not able of exploiting this resource. Of course, this isn’t a problem if people live in places where geothermal power can be easily accessed, such as Iceland.
- Environmental Side Effects: Even though geothermal energy doesn’t generally release greenhouse gases, a number of these gases are stored under the surface of the Earth which get released into the atmosphere while digging. Even though these gases are released into the earth’s atmosphere naturally as well, there is an increase in the rate near the geothermal plants. However, the gas emissions are still way lower than the gas emissions associated with fossil fuels.
- Earthquakes: Geothermal energy also has the risk of setting off earthquakes. This is because of the alterations in the structure of the Earth as a result of digging. This issue is has become widespread with the enhanced geothermal energy plants, where water is forced into the crust of Earth for opening the fissures for higher exploitation of the resource. However, as most of the geothermal plants are far away from the centres of population, the impact of these earthquakes is minor comparatively.
- High Costs: Geothermal energy is a highly expensive resource to tap into, with the prices ranging from $2-$7 million for one plant with a capacity of 1-megawatt. However, even though the upfront costs may be high, the outlay can be recovered as part of a long-term investment.
- Sustainability: For maintaining the sustainability of geothermal energy, fluid has to be pumped back to the underground reservoirs faster than it had been depleted. This implies that geothermal energy has to be properly managed for maintaining its sustainability.
- It is essential for the industry to evaluate the geothermal energy advantages and disadvantages in order to take account of the advantages when mitigating against any of the potential issues.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Geothermal Energy In Tabular Form
|Advantages of Geothermal Energy||Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy|
|1. Renewable: Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source that is constantly replenished by the earth’s heat.||1. Location specific: Geothermal energy can only be harnessed in areas where the earth’s heat is close to the surface, limiting its availability in some regions.|
|2. Cost-effective: Once a geothermal power plant is built, the operational costs are relatively low compared to other forms of energy.||2. High upfront costs: The upfront costs of building a geothermal power plant can be high, making it less accessible for some investors.|
|3. Reliable: Geothermal power plants can provide a stable and reliable source of energy, as they are not affected by weather conditions like wind or solar power.||3. Environmental impact: Geothermal power plants can have an impact on the environment, including land subsidence, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.|
|4. Scalable: Geothermal energy can be used for both large-scale and small-scale energy production, making it a flexible energy source.||4. Limited resources: There are only a limited number of viable geothermal sites, and the resource can be depleted if not managed properly.|
|5. Efficient: Geothermal power plants are highly efficient, converting up to 70% of the energy from the earth into electricity.||5. Surface hazards: Drilling for geothermal energy can cause surface hazards like earthquakes and landslides.|
|6. Long lifespan: Geothermal power plants have a long lifespan, with some plants operating for over 50 years.||6. Geographical constraints: The location of geothermal resources may be in remote or inaccessible areas, making it difficult and costly to access and develop.|
|7. Low emissions: Geothermal energy produces very low emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, making it a cleaner energy source than fossil fuels.||7. Energy transmission: Transporting geothermal energy over long distances can be challenging and expensive.|
|8. Low land use: Geothermal power plants require relatively small amounts of land compared to other forms of energy production.||8. Water use: Geothermal power plants require large amounts of water for cooling, which can be a challenge in water-scarce areas.|
|9. Job creation: Geothermal energy development can create jobs in both the construction and operation of geothermal power plants.||9. Competition with other land uses: Geothermal development can compete with other land uses like agriculture and tourism, which can lead to conflicts.|
|10. Baseload power: Geothermal energy can provide baseload power, which is essential for meeting the energy needs of communities and industries.||10. Maintenance challenges: Maintaining and repairing geothermal power plants can be challenging and costly.|
Comparison Table for Advantages and Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy
|Geothermal energy sourcing is good for the environment.||The extraction of geothermal energy causes greenhouse emissions.|
|Geothermal energy is a reliable source of renewable energy.||There is a possibility of depletion in geothermal sources.|
|Geothermal systems have high efficiency.||There is a high-cost investment needed for geothermal systems.|
|There is no too little geothermal system maintenance needed.||It is hard to implement geothermal systems in big cities.|
|There is an unlimited supply of geothermal energy.||Geothermal reservoirs cannot easily be found.|
FAQ’s on Pros and Cons of Geothermal Energy
When was geothermal energy first used?
Geothermal energy was first used in 1904 in Italy. It has been consistently being used and an expanding source of energy in recent years.
What are the different types of geothermal energy?
There are three types of geothermal energy.
- Dry stream
Which is the most widely used type of geothermal energy?
Flash steam is the most widely used geothermal power plant across the globe. This energy is more energy efficient in comparison to the dry steam model.