Geothermal Energy: A Detailed Overview


Brief Introduction to Geothermal Energy

Geothermal Energy is a sustainable energy source, it is fully renewable and takes less time as compared to other sources of energy to renew itself naturally and yet remains mostly untapped. Regarded as an environmentally-friendly resource it has the ability to meet heating, cooling and electricity demands for future generations.

Geothermal energy can be recovered and exploited for daily use, and it’s available on the Earth’s surface i.e. crust. Though there’s a nonstop source of heat on Earth, the birth rate of the heated fluids, and gases can exceed the loss rate and therefore, use of this resource must be managed properly.

How to Use Geothermal Energy ?

Geothermal energy can be subdivided into 3 main categories of usage i.e.

1. Direct Use – This is probably the most widely and easily used way of extracting geothermal energy from the ground. It involves heated water from the ground with direct sources but there is no need for any specialized equipment. For e.g. swimming pools, spa’s, aquaculture ponds, etc are heated directly by geothermal energy in its raw form.

2. Geothermal Heat Pumps – Geothermal heat pumps or GHPs take advantage of the fairly steady moderate temperatures that are within the first 300-400 metres of the Earth’s crust. A GHP system is made up of a loop of pipes buried in the ground which is called a heat exchanger.

3. Electric Power Generation – Depending upon the temperature and the steam inflow, geothermal energy can be used to induce electricity. Geothermal power shops can produce electricity in three ways. Given that the redundant water vapour at the end of each process is condensed and always returned to the ground, where it’s reheated for after use.


Pros and Cons Of Geothermal Energy

Geothermal Energy is very potent but like every other natural or man-made resource, it has a downside to it. But, the good thing is that there are far more advantages to this particular renewable energy. Let’s discuss both sides of the coin quickly.

Advantages of Geothermal Energy

1.Geothermal energy is more environmentally friendly than conventional energy sources like coal, oil, and natural gas. In addition, the carbon footprint of a geothermal energy source is minimum.

2.Geothermal energy is a proper source of renewable energy and it will last until the Earth is not destroyed completely, there will always be geothermal energies trapped in the earth’s surface to put to use. The hot reservoirs on the Earth’s surface are naturally recharged, making it both renewable and sustainable.

3.Worldwide energy consumption is presently around 15 Terawatts(TWs), which is far from the total energy indirectly available from geothermal sources. While we cannot presently use almost 90% of these geothermal natural reservoirs, there’s a desire of the human race to explore and develop this resource further which means it has a huge potential.

4.It is a more dependable or stable source of energy as compared to other renewable sources because the resource is always available to be tapped into, unlike wind or solar energy which has to be harnessed.

5.It is clear that geothermal energy is a very reliable source of energy because it is easy to calculate and doesn’t differ or vary i.e. it is predictable and accurate.

6.Since it is a naturally occurring resource there is no requirement for fueling it from time to time, such as with other fossil fuels that are non-replenishable and need some form of mining.


Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy

1.The largest single disadvantage of geothermal energy is that it is a location-specific resource. Some places are naturally suitable for extraction where energy is attainable easily and some are not, so it becomes difficult to know and build power plants for mining. Places like Iceland are filled with abundant geothermal hot spots.

2.Geothermal energy doesn’t release a feast of greenhouse gases hampering the environment but, there are many of these gases trapped under the Earth’s surface which are released into the atmosphere during the digging/mining process which is a necessity to tap fully into a geothermal source. Due to this reason these gases are also released into the atmosphere, we have seen a spike in the rate increase near geothermal plants. However, these gas emissions are still far low as compared to fossil fuels.

3.Geothermal energy also runs the risk of triggering earthquakes periodically. This is due to differences in the Earth’s structure as a result of digging. This problem is more current with enhanced geothermal power plants, which force water into the Earth’s crust to open up cracks. Still, since utmost geothermal powerhouses are built away from population centers, the counter-accusations of these earthquakes are fairly minor.

4.Geothermal energy is one of the most expensive resources in today’s world. with price tags ranging in many millions for a plant with a 1-megawatt capacity. However, where the investment costs are high, the outlay or return is way larger and can be recouped as part of a long-term investment.

Therefore, after everything is said and done it’s important for the renewable energy industry to assess the pros and cons of geothermal energy to take notes of the key advantages or disadvantages while navigating against any potential problems.

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