The Advantages and Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy

The world we know is in a very pivotal spot. We are burning more fossil fuels then ever before and the carbon emissions are skyrocketing worldwide. This article will discuss one of the best sustainable and renewable energy sources, which is Geothermal energy. We will dive into the advantages and disadvantages of Geothermal energy and how it can benefit society for the better.

Geothermal energy power plant located in Iceland. This is a renewable energy. The smoke from the geothermal energy rises in the air.
Geothermal Energy Plant

What is Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is considered one of the best renewable energy resources we have on this planet. It is a renewable energy that is available in most regions of the earth.

Geothermal power plant creating renewable energy. The smoke from the geothermal energy is rising into the atmosphere.

Underneath the earths crust is magma that’s temperature is higher then the surface of the sun. The internal temperature reaching 6000 Celsius in some areas!

We have found ways to extract this heat to produce electricity. This is whats known as Geothermal energy.

Definition of Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy refers to the creation of energy by using the internal heat from the earths crust to create electricity.

There are different methods for extracting the heat. One of the most common methods is drilling wells and using steam and water to extract the heat. This hot water is then used to heat heat buildings and homes. The wells can range anywhere from 3 – 10 km deep!

Advantages and disadvantages of geothermal energy. Iceland has the most geothermal energy of any country. Big clouds of steam are escaping the earths crust.
Geothermal Energy

How does Geothermal energy work?

Geothermal energy has two main applications. One is heating a home or building using the direct heat. The second is Geothermal power plants using hot steam to rotate turbines connected to generators. When the heat spins the turbines this produces energy.

Using Geothermal energy to heat home or buildings:

  1. The hot water extracted from the wells is circulated throughout the buildings directly to heat them.
  2. The hot water extracted is pumped through a heat exchanger. This then transfers the heat to the building or home when needed.

How does a Geothermal Power Plant Work?

Geothermal energy can be produced by using the internal heat of the earths crust to produce steam. This hot steam then is put through a turbines connected to generators which spin and create electricity.

How geothermal energy works in a geothermal power plant. This is a diagram on geothermal energy.
How Geothermal energy works

Fun Fact: Over 25% of the total electricity produced in Iceland is Geothermal. In 2014, Iceland had roughly 85% of primary energy coming from renewable resources!

The Advantages of Geo-Thermal Energy

  1. Sustainable Energy Resource: Geothermal energy is created by taken naturally occurring heat from the earth. The way of extractions produces almost zero emissions which means it’s safe for the environment.
  2. Reliable Renewable Energy Source: Found in many locations on earth. It’s a renewable resource so we will not deplete it.
  3. Low Maintenance: Once the plant is up and running it’s very passive. You just need to let it start producing electricity.
  4. High Efficiency: Geothermal heat pump systems use between 25 – 50% less energy then the standard heating systems for your home.
  5. Environmentally friendly: This renewable resource leaves no pollution and saves energy by being more efficient then other sources.
  6. Small footprint on land: Can be built partially to fit underground.
  7. Availability: Geothermal energy can be found almost anywhere on earth.
  8. Technological Advancements: Enhanced geothermal heat systems have been created which are even more efficient. As society progresses we will make Geothermal energy more and more efficient and lower the cost.
  9. Return on Investment: On average it takes 3 – 10 years to earn back your investment by using Geothermal energy.

The Disadvantages of Geo-Thermal Energy

  1. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: When drilling into the earth, there’s chances for small amounts of greenhouse gases to escape from the crust. These include: carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, methane and more. However these are considerably lower when compared to fossil fuels.
  2. High Start-up Costs: High initial start up costs for households. Just like any renewable resource there is a high start up costs. They need to drill and install a complex system into the home.
  3. Need Space: When trying to heat your home with geothermal energy you need land beside your house for the geothermal system. Hard to be built in cities
  4. Chances of Depletion: Certain locations can cool down after time. Once cooled down you can no longer harness geothermal energy.

When comparing the advantages to the disadvantages of geothermal energy, there is a clear winner. The pros heavily outweigh the cons.

Is Geo-Thermal Energy Renewable

Yes, Geothermal energy is renewable. All the heat that is stored inside the earth has the potential to be harvested if we can extract it correctly. Internal heat from underneath the earths crust is extracted using a variety of methods. This is a no-pollution, almost zero emission, renewable energy alternative to fossil fuels.

This is turn does not warm the earth and create “global warming” a.k.a climate change.

Diagram on how the system operates. Cold water is pumped into the ground forcing the hot water up.
How Geothermal energy works

Pros and Cons of Geo-Thermal Energy (Chart)

The pros and cons of geothermal energy. In my opinion the pros heavily outweigh the cons. We need to harness the renewable energy resources we have and when combined will be able to counter act fossil fuels.

Pros and Cons of geothermal energy. The advantages and disadvantages of geothermal energy.
Pros and Cons of Geothermal Energy

Alternatives to Geo-Thermal Energy

  1. Solar Energy
  2. Biomass Energy
  3. Hydroelectric Energy
  4. Wind Energy
  5. Nuclear Energy
Renewable energy like wind and solar energy. These play into the advantages and disadvantages of geothermal energy. Big wind fan, lots of solar panels.
Renewable Energy

In Conclusion to Geothermal Energy

In conclusion to this article on Geothermal energy, it has more potential then we ever realized. The advantages and disadvantages of geothermal energy are clear. The advantages heavily outweigh the disadvantages.

More energy is stored in the earths crust then of all fossil fuels on earth combined. We need to start investing resources and money into research of these renewable energy sources. Climate Change is upon us and we need to look into what options we have.

Future generations will need to transform society and our energy sources to something that is actually sustainable. The more we research into these methods, the better off we will be.

In my opinion, more countries need to look at Geothermal energy and see if it’s the right choice for them.

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