Geothermal energy is a sustainable source of clean energy. The reservoirs are springing up in many places around the world, where some countries are adopting them as a primary source of power. Although they are a bit difficult to find yet, countries like Germany and New Zealand are investing more and more in it.
The world is looking for new renewable sources of energy. The demand for energy is increasing, whereas the price of fossil fuel is also rising. It creates a market for new power sources.
Geothermal energy has the potential to fill in the gap in the market. It has an excellent output to input ratio. The technology though primitive by industrial standards still operates at peak efficiency.
There are, however, some disadvantages of using this source of energy as well. To put in perspective, we will look at the pros and cons of geothermal energy.
The Advantages of Geothermal Energy:
The plus points of geothermal energy sources are:
1. Environmental-friendly Power Generation:
Geothermal energy is amongst the least polluting energy source. It’s not entirely pollution-free, but it is minor if you compare it to fossil fuels. A geothermal power plant produces a minimal carbon footprint, which makes it a great alternative energy source.
2. Reliable Source:
The most positive point about a geothermal energy source is that it is stable and dependable. Geothermal energy is peculiar in that the technicians can accurately calculate the exact output of this source. If you compare this to the other green energy sources, you will find that they are highly unpredictable. Solar and wind energy relies on many factors for efficient power generation.
Moreover, the plant produces power that is near to the full capacity of the electricity generators. In some places, it is generating ninety-seven percent energy of the maximum capacity.
A geothermal reservoir is a natural green resource, which can refill given enough time. Additionally, you can replenish it artificially by pumping in water. Therefore, it is a renewable energy source.
The source can replenish quickly, so theoretically it can never run out. The position of geothermal energy is a unique one because apart from sun and wind, no other source is as abundant. Furthermore, the efficiency of solar and wind energy depends on many corresponding factors. It is not the case with geothermal energy.
4. Potential to Replace Fossil Fuels:
The potential for geothermal energy is excellent. Currently, the production is nowhere near the available sources. We generate electricity using only a minimal amount of what we can extract. The generators are only producing half of the capacity of what we are getting as there are a lot of heat losses. If we can perfect this system, then it can easily replace fossil fuels for all our power needs.
5. Suitable for Domestic and Industrial Use:
Geothermal is useful for heating purpose. We can use it to heat our homes or cook food. In an industry similarly, we can use it on a big scale to run turbines and generate electricity. The electricity can run our homes and provide us with heating in winter and cooling in the summers.
The Cons of Geothermal Energy:
As with all energy sources, geothermal also has some demerits as well. You have to consider the following aspects:
1. Environmental Impact:
Geothermal energy is present in vast reservoirs deep in the earth. We can find a lot of harmful gases below the crust of the earth. They find their way outside through these springs and thermal plants. Their emission can be detrimental to the environment. The gases have such toxic contents as Sulfur dioxide, boron, mercury and arsenic compounds.
These energy plants release those greenhouse gases directly into the atmosphere affecting them. However, they are quite less if you compare them to fossil fuels.
2. Concerns About Sustainability:
The generation capacity of the may be stable, but if the power station uses too much fluid, the resources may deplete. The plant management can make plans to replenish the reservoir by injecting water back into the source. If you allow the source to fill up naturally than the chances are that it will run infinitely. However, completing this cycle is a massive undertaking which requires capital and water source whose availability is necessary.
3. Destabilizing the Earth Tectonic Plate:
Companies have to construct the geothermal power station using pipes that drill deep into the earth surface. The modern technologies such as hydraulic fracturing can trigger earthquakes. There has been an increase in such cases in places where they are building geothermal power plants.
The release of geothermal gases results in slight tremors in the tectonic plates. It may not have a significant effect immediately, but in the future, it can spell disaster for the area.
4. Costly Project:
The cost of the geothermal power project is quite high. The drilling and deploying stabilizing pipes alone can be in the millions. Moreover, the setup for it has to be near the source, so the system is not ideal if the location is remote.
The overall cost is quite a lot if you compare it with other fuel sources. However, geothermal energy can be cost-effective in the long run. The technology at present is not able to use the system to produce electricity at an efficient rate. The initial cost may be a lot, but years down the line, it will be economical.
5. Available in Specific Locations:
The problem with finding a geothermal reservoir is that they are rare to find. In some places like New Zealand, they are quite abundant, but there are hardly any sources in many other countries. The power plant running on geothermal source generates about one-third of the electricity demands of the Philippines and New Zealand.
If the pipeline has to carry hot water over a long distance, then there are a lot of energy losses. It decreases the advantage of having an energy source as the projects become less and less profitable.
The pipes and valves have to be bear the immense pressure. Because of this, it’s imperative to only get the best balls from top manufacturers like https://en.siovalve.com/product-category/ball-valves/. The power plant can only use equipment which the industry grades as safe for such a level of stress.
Geothermal power is a green source of energy which is far more effective than other sources in its category. Although the technology is still young and we’re not yet using it at its full potential, there’s a remarkable market for it. It is versatile and safe enough for domestic users as well. Moreover, we can use it on an industrial scale as well. Therein lies its true potential.