The heat present within the core of the earth’s surface is geothermal energy. It is a clean and renewable source of energy and is exploited for electricity and heat.
The process and the requirements for selecting the site itself are the challenges where it may invite large earthquakes and casualties. The deeper the drilling process is required to obtain more geothermal energy.
Hence, the advantages and disadvantages of geothermal energy depend on the source availability and the execution during the process.
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As the name states, “Geo” means earth, and “Thermal” means heat in Greek: stating the heat generated deep in the earth’s core. The slow decay of radioactive isotopes in the earth’s core produces geothermal energy.
Earth can generate enormous amounts of heat due to its four layers. The first one is an inner core of solid iron, about 1500 miles in diameter, with a temperature of 10,800 °F. The inner core is surrounded by the outer core of hot molten rock or magma, which is 1500 miles thick.
The third layer is the mantle of magma and rock surrounding the outer core, which is 1800 miles thick with 7,230 °F temperature.
Finally, a crust of solid rock forms the continents and ocean floor, where thickness varies from 15 to 30 miles thick and 3 to 5 miles wide under the oceans with 390 °F temperature.
The geothermal energy source is the magma that heats rocks and underground aquifers, releasing hot water through hot springs, steam vents, and underwater hydrothermal vents.
Geothermal energy is used to heat structures like parking lots, buildings, and sidewalks. The heat captured can be used to generate electricity or heat the steam.
Unlike magma, water, or steam, the dry geothermal heat remains in the mantle, collecting as pockets of high heat and can be accessed by drilling and injecting water to create steam under high pressure.
Many countries are moving on with this renewable source of energy. The type of geothermal energy varies in different parts of the world, where the U.S. must drill to access the energy at a greater cost.
The abundant source of hot, underground water makes it possible for the people of Iceland to rely on geothermal energy as a safe, dependable, and inexpensive energy source.
Almost 26 countries use geothermal electricity generation. On the other hand, 70 countries use geothermal heating. There are various geothermal energy examples like hot springs, lava, fumaroles.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Geothermal Energy
However, geothermal power is widely in use in most businesses and homes. According to the study, around 129 geothermal power stations are operating in Europe, which increased by 5% compared to 2019. This number is believed to be doubled in the next five to eight years.
Advantages Of Geothermal Energy
Here we are going to discuss some advantages of geothermal energy. Being a natural and renewable source of energy, it is very reliable. Geothermal energy doesn’t require fuel to extract it from the core.
1. Renewable source of energy
As the earth retained a huge amount of heat during the planet’s formation and is generating heat with continuous decaying of the radioactive particle within the earth makes it a renewable source.
Types of geothermal energy like hot springs and fumaroles get produced from the earth’s surface. They get replenished naturally, thus making energy sustainable and renewable.
2. Environment friendly
Geothermal energy is friendlier to the environment than other fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, petroleum, etc. The carbon production or footprint generated through geothermal energy is minimal.
It doesn’t cause harm to the environment. When the heat gets pumped up to the earth’s surface, it has zero deficit effects on the environment.
Geothermal energy is convenient as its production causes less noise to the environment. The energy keeps your home comfortable as the entire system is underground.
It is the best source of heating and cooling effect that you will get into your house. These are some advantages of geothermal energy applied in domestic households.
3. Stable sources of energy
Since the energy generated from the earth’s crust is abundant, it is less likely to have insufficiency. Also, the geothermal plant produces emissions that don’t require constant backup.
Therefore, according to the sources, it has minimal effect on the air quality. Unlike solar and wind energy, geothermal energy doesn’t need to get conserved and trapped continuously.
4. Geothermal energy helps to enhance employment
The establishment of geothermal energy projects in rural areas has broadened employment opportunities. It has helped to increase the creation of new jobs.
According to the sources, the initiation of the plan in 2012, based on the New Power Complex in Imperial Valley, United States, has helped about 323 workers to get employment.
More than 57 jobs got created in maintenance, engineering, administration, and operations.
5. Reduces your utility bills
Installing a geothermal energy system allows you to have higher comfort at your house at a low cost. However, the initial installation of the system may be costly, but it has lots of advantages if you look at the bigger picture.
When the geothermal energy system is fully installed and operated, utility bills will be reduced by 50%. Geothermal energy requires a minimal amount of electricity for the generation of heat.
Most businesses take the loan for system installation, and later the savings from utility bills can be enough for loan repayment.
6. No fuel required
During the production or generation of geothermal energy, it requires no fuel. It doesn’t require mining and transportation-related processes. It also signifies no emission of gas and fumes that pollute the environment.
Baseload power sources are those plants where there is no change in their power output for days or months and are able to supply the electricity as per demand at any given time.
The weather and the outer environment do not affect the geothermal system. The geothermal power plants produce electricity 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
The production of geothermal energy is unaffected by climatic changes and extreme weather conditions, unlike other renewable energy such as solar energy, hydropower, and wind energy.
As geothermal power plants run all the time and provide constant output, it is considered a valuable baseload source of renewable power. Baseload source is one of the major advantages of geothermal energy.
8. Innovation in Technology
Since people have been talking about green energy these days, geothermal energy has taken all the eyes currently. People are exploring more about geothermal energy.
New innovative technologies are being introduced to help efficiently generate geothermal energy. Engineers are testing new technology to minimize risk factors, cut maintenance costs, and increase efficiency during drilling operations.
9. Free production of hot water
Hot water produced as a form of geothermal energy is used by everyone. The hot springs have been bathing water since Paleolithic times and ancient Roman times.
However, these days’ people use hot springs to produce electricity. According to the data of 2019, there is 13900 Megawatts production of geothermal power.
Disadvantages Of Geothermal Energy
Geothermal power plants have some criteria before the production or construction of the plant. The natural source of nature will depend on nature, and we are not able to extract geothermal energy if the earth’s temperature cools down.
The excessive drilling and the quick result may invite chaotic situations like earthquakes hampering the project and the people nearby. Here are some disadvantages of geothermal energy:
1. It can get built at specific sites only
For a giant geothermal plant minimum temperature of 100 degree, Celsius is necessary. The temperature of reservoirs should be similar to that. It should be demographically and technically approved before it comes in operation.
The site should exceed all these criteria to operate further. These reservoirs are usually found in specific locations near hot spots or tectonic place boundaries. Therefore, the majority of U.S geothermal power plants are in California.
2. Chances of earthquakes
According to research, there is a correlation between earthquake events, heat flow regions, and the geothermal hot springs.
The instability of the tectonic plates results in earthquakes, and geothermal energy maintains the balance or stability. Hence drilling with high pressure may create movement in the plates resulting in earthquakes.
The intra-plate seismicity occurs due to extreme flow and enormous pressure shaking the earth at the plate boundaries. Seismicity is one of the vital risk factors and disadvantages of geothermal energy.
3. Depletion of the sources
There is a high possibility of the depletion of geothermal sources in the future. As we know, it is one of the renewable and stable sources of energy.
There is a higher probability of sources like hot springs getting cooled down, creating the impossibility of harvesting geothermal energy.
The earthquake also causes slow land subsidence shortly as the reservoir gets depleted. The world’s first electrical plant powered by geothermal energy in Larderello, Italy, has seen its pressure fall by more than 25% since the 1950s.
Environmentalists are working on a non-depletable option for the generation of geothermal energy. One possible option is to source geothermal energy directly from the magma.
There are still many improvements required to form this technology and implement it properly. The presence of magma will be for many years in the future.
It has become one of the crucial alternatives to conserve and produce geothermal energy. The risk involved in generating the energy and its depletion are disadvantages of geothermal energy.
4. Greenhouse emission
Geothermal energy is eco-friendly, but considering the possibilities of greenhouse gas’s emission during the production is one of the disadvantages of of geothermal.
The extraction from the grounds can release a small number of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and methane.
However, greenhouse gases released while producing geothermal energy are far lesser than fossil fuels.
Hence, these are some advantages and disadvantages regarding geothermal energy. It is the only renewable resource that can be used to produce large amounts of heat.
The continuous extraction of heat from the wells will ultimately result in cooling down, depleting the energy source. The naturally lost heat from volcanic activity is much more than the heat lost through geothermal energy production.
The technology promises and ensures the safer, reliable, and cost-efficient method to extract geothermal energy without affecting the environment.