Sunday, April 14, 2024

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is one of the fastest-growing renewable sources on the planet. It’s expected to grow by 50% by the end of 2025 and will continue to grow decades after. Especially as the technology continues to improve.

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages geothermal power offers the world.

What Is Geothermal Energy?

Geothermal Plant

Geothermal energy is a type of energy produced by using steam to rotate a turbine. The most common method is by harnessing hot water reservoirs miles below the Earth’s surface.

This is known as flash steam, and other methods include dry steam and binary steam.

Advantages of Geothermal Energy

1. It’s Renewable

Geothermal energy will be available for as long as the Earth exists. This is because the earth’s core is extremely hot and it will naturally replenish itself, thus there will be a never-ending amount of steam.

At least until the Sun engulfs the Earth in about 5 billion years.

2. It’s Still Evolving

While geothermal technology has been around for over one hundred years, it’s still advancing. New technology is looking at the potential of capturing energy directly from magma.

If successful, more geothermal locations will become possible.

3. Geothermal Heating & Cooling Is Efficient

The heating and cooling potential of geothermal energy is amazing, which is why it’s regularly used for houses. And by replacing oil and electric heating systems, it can further save emissions.

Of course, not everyone will have access to this technology.

4. Reliable

Unlike other renewable sources that can have random spikes and dips in energy output, geothermal is very reliable. As a result, the reliability of the electric grid is improved.

And since this is one of the major criticisms against renewables, it’s a big plus.

Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy

1. Not Emissions Free

While geothermal plants release 99% fewer emissions than fossil fuels, they still release some. In this case, they release ammonia, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and methane.

While it’s very small, it’s problematic when pursuing net-zero emissions.

2. Location Specific

Unlike solar panels, which work almost anywhere around the world, geothermal needs hot water reservoirs. In some cases, there are no suitable options available or it is too far below the Earth’s surface.

It is also possible that something is already occupying the land.

3. Sustainability Concerns

Geothermal plants capture steam, but steam is just the gaseous form of water. The steam must then return to the underground reservoir at a faster rate than it is removed, otherwise, it will dry out.

Luckily, geothermal plants keep this in mind and work hard to avoid the outcome.

4. Earthquake Risk

Due to the digging necessary to reach the hot water reservoirs, there is a risk of triggering Earthquakes. In fact, in 2017, the South Korean government linked the earthquake in Pohang to a geothermal plant.

That said, geothermal plants are not usually built near cities.

Geothermal Energy Will Continue to Grow

As the world looks to end its fossil fuel addiction, a variety of renewable sources will help balance out the electric grid. This ensures that if one source fails or produces less than expected, the others can be used to make up for it.

As a reliable form of renewable energy, geothermal will be vital for a carbon-free electric grid.

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Robert Giaquinto

Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.

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