Geothermal Energy Advantages and Disadvantages

Geothermal energy is crucial to human advancement and improves our quality of life.

The word “geothermal” comes from the Greek, where “geo” means “Earth” and “thermal” means “heat.”

As a result, you can now define geothermal energy as thermal energy that originates 1,800 miles below the Earth’s surface.

It is fluid filling cracks and fractures in the Earth’s crust and heat deposited in the rock.

Water or steam is used to transport geothermal energy to the Earth’s surface.

Almost anywhere on the earth can access geothermal energy.

However, the breakdown of the minerals and trees requires the Earth to generate this energy over some years.

Before we look at the geothermal energy advantages and disadvantages, it’s good that we look at how geothermal energy is produced.

The temperature of Earth increases from the surface to the core.

The geothermal gradient, which is roughly 25° C per 1 kilometer in depth on most of the planet, describes this slow temperature change.

The great majority of heat under the Earth’s core comes from the radioactive isotopes that are constantly decaying.

This source of energy is aided by the fact that temperatures in this region of the Earth’s surface climb above 5,000 °C.

Water, rocks, gas, and other geological components are all warmed by the heat that is constantly radiated outside.

Magma can occur when rock formations in the Earth’s mantle and lower crust reach temperatures of around 700 to 1,300 °C.

It is a molten rock that occasionally erupts as lava onto the surface of the Earth and is pierced by gas and gas bubbles.

This lava melts the adjacent rocks and subterranean aquifers, releasing geothermal energy in a variety of forms onto the Earth’s surface all over the world.

Geothermal energy is generated by lava, geysers, steam vents, or dry heat.

While geothermal energy steam is used to generate electricity, the heat can be captured and used directly for heating reasons.

Examples of Geothermal Energy

The following are examples of geothermal energy according to studiousguy,

  • Geothermal Heated Homes
  • Geothermal Power Plants
  • Hot Springs
  • Geothermal Geysers
  • Fumarole
  • Spas

1. Geothermal Heated Homes

The primary use of geothermal energy is for home heating.

A huge network of coils that harvests heat from the earth is connected to the perfect geothermal heat pump.

Then, with the assistance of conventional ducts, this heat is distributed throughout the house.

This system is set up so that the operation can be adjusted by the changing of the seasons.

This massive coil system is filled with water and antifreeze solutions in the summer.

A house’s atmosphere cools down due to heat being transmitted from the house to the earth.

2. Geothermal Power Plants

Electricity can be produced from the thermal energy that exists below the surface of the ground.

Steam from the earth is used by geothermal power systems to produce electricity.

High-speed turbine rotation is accomplished with this steam.

Once these turbines have developed mechanical energy, or after being set in motion, the mechanical energy is delivered to the power generation system.

The fundamental component of the electricity production system is a generator, which uses electromagnetic induction to transform mechanical energy into electrical energy.

Because it doesn’t discharge any harmful or carbon-rich emissions into the atmosphere, this technique is incredibly dependable and environmentally beneficial.

It also doesn’t leave any residue in its wake.

As a result, there is no land pollution, which also means that waste treatment is not necessary.

Geothermal energy has advantages since it offers reliability, constancy, and renewability.

3. Hot Springs

The earth is home to a variety of natural hot springs.

When subsurface water interacts with a heated rock, hot springs are created.

Geological heat is released while the water warms up. The tourists find these springs to be very interesting.

Geothermal energy can therefore be utilized to create economic benefits and jobs for young people.

One of geothermal energy’s most often used applications is hot springs.

Bathing in hot springs is a popular recreational activity.

The only drawback is the overpowering sulfur odor that can be found in or close to an exposed hot spring.

4. Geothermal Geysers

Geothermal geysers and geothermal hot springs are quite similar.

The sole distinction is that water flows in a vertical column many feet high in a geothermal geyser.

Old Faithful, a geothermal geyser at Yellowstone National Park in the United States, is the most well-known.

Every 60 to 90 minutes, the Old Faithful geyser blows its top.

A water supply beneath the earth’s surface, a vent on the surface of the earth, and hot underground rocks are necessary conditions for the development of geothermal geysers.

5. Fumarole

Water that is already existing underground heats up as it comes into touch with hot rock or magma and escapes through a vent.

A fumarole is the name of this vent. When the earth’s surface has a fissure or other opening, fumaroles can develop.

A fumarole is essentially an aperture that is close to a volcano or hot spring.

As the heat or thermal energy necessary for the formation of a fumarole is only collected from the earth’s surface, this is another illustration of geothermal energy.

However, as the extraction of heat energy follows a natural genesis process, there is no need for a pump in this case.

As a result, it may be reached easily and just needs a minor adjustment.

Although occasionally fumaroles mysteriously disappear.

However, based on the earth’s internal clock, they might reemerge. As a result, it makes it difficult to utilize energy effectively.

6. Spas

Geothermal energy is used in activities that are related to health and wellness.

Hot springs and fumaroles are used in spas and other related industries to produce heat and steam.

This method of utilizing geothermal energy has existed for a very long time.

This approach provides advantages for personal care that are affordable, natural, and efficient.

The best asset is a geothermal opening that is close to a spa because it is an endlessly available and convenient source of electricity.

Uses of Geothermal Energy

While some geothermal energy uses involve drilling kilometers into the earth, others make use of temperatures close to the surface.

Geothermal energy systems can be divided into three primary categories:

  • Systems for both Direct Consumption and District Heating
  • Geothermal Power Plants
  • Geothermal Heat Pumps

1. Systems for both Direct Consumption and District Heating

Systems for direct use and district heating get hot water from springs or reservoirs that are close to the earth’s surface.

Hot mineral springs have been utilized for bathing, heating, and cooking in ancient Chinese, Roman, and Native American cultures.

Many hot springs are still utilized for bathing today, and many people think the mineral-rich, hot waters are good for their health.

Additionally, district heating systems and direct heating of individual buildings both utilize geothermal energy.

Buildings are heated by pipes that carry hot water from the earth’s surface.

In Reykjavik, Iceland, the majority of the buildings are heated by a district heating system.

Gold mining, milk pasteurization, and food dehydration (drying) are a few industrial uses for geothermal energy.

2. Geothermal Power Plants

The production of geothermal electricity requires steam or water at high temperatures (between 300° and 700°F).

Within a mile or two of the earth’s surface, geothermal reservoirs are often where geothermal power plants are constructed.

The United States was one of 27 nations that produced a total of 88 billion kWh of power in 2019 using geothermal energy.

With almost 14 billion kWh of power produced, Indonesia was the world’s second-largest geothermal electricity producer behind the United States.

This represents roughly 5% of Indonesia’s overall electricity production.

Kenya produced the eighth-highest amount of geothermal electricity, at around 5 billion kWh, but it accounted for the biggest proportion of its total annual electricity production, at roughly 46%.

3. Geothermal Heat Pumps

Buildings can be heated and cooled using geothermal heat pumps, which take advantage of the stable soil surface temperatures.

In the winter, geothermal heat pumps move heat from the earth (or water) into buildings, and in the summer they do the opposite.

Geothermal Energy Advantages and Disadvantages

Geothermal energy though a good alternative to traditional fossil fuel generation has its advantages and disadvantages

Geothermal Energy Advantages

The following are the advantages of geothermal energy

  • Environmentally Friendly
  • Sustainable
  • Significant Potential
  • Stable and Durable
  • Heating and Cooling
  • Dependable
  • No Fuel Is Necessary
  • Rapid Revolution
  • Low-Cost Maintenance:
  • Superb Efficiency
  • More Jobs Available
  • Noise Pollution Reduction
  • Non-Renewable Fossil Fuel Sources Are Saved

1. Environmentally Friendly

Compared to conventional fuels like coal and other fossil fuels, geothermal energy is more environmentally friendly.

Additionally, a geothermal power plant has a little carbon footprint.

While geothermal energy does produce some pollution, it is much less than that produced by fossil fuels.

2. Sustainable

Geothermal energy is a renewable resource that will be available until the sun destroys the Earth in about 5 billion years.

Because the Earth’s heated reserves are refilled naturally, it is both renewable and sustainable.

3. Significant Potential

Around 15 terawatts of energy are currently consumed globally, a small fraction of the total energy that may be obtained from geothermal sources.

Although most reservoirs cannot now be used, there is hope that as industrial research and development continue, the number of geothermal resources that can be used will rise.

Geothermal power facilities are thought to be capable of producing between 0.0035 and 2 terawatts of energy.

4. Stable and Durable

Compared to other renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, geothermal energy offers a consistent stream of energy.

This is so that, unlike with wind or solar energy, the resource is always available to be used.

5. Heating and Cooling

Water must be over 150°C for turbines to be driven by geothermal energy effectively.

Alternately, the differential in temperature between a ground source and the surface might be utilized.

Just two meters below the surface, a geothermal heat pump can operate as a heat sink/source since the ground is more resistant to seasonal heat variations than the air.

6. Dependable

Since it does not fluctuate as much as energy from other sources, like solar and wind, it is simple to compute the amount of energy produced by this resource.

This implies that we can make highly accurate predictions about a geothermal plant’s power output.

7. No Fuel Is Necessary

There is no requirement for fuel because geothermal energy is a naturally occurring resource, unlike fossil fuels, which are limited resources that must be mined or otherwise extracted from the earth.

8. Rapid Revolution

Geothermal energy is currently the subject of extensive research, which means that new technologies are being developed to enhance the energy process.

Numerous initiatives are being undertaken to advance and expand this sector of the economy.

Many of the existing drawbacks of geothermal energy will be mitigated by this rapid evolution.

9. Low-Cost Maintenance

Can you estimate how much it will cost to build up the traditional power plant?

Well, it costs a lot of money to build up a traditional power plant. However, less money is required for geothermal installation and upkeep.

10. Superb Efficiency

Geothermal heat pump systems consume between 25% and 30% less electricity for heating and cooling than conventional heating and cooling systems.

Additionally, these geothermal heat pump units can be constructed to be compact in shape and take up less space.

11. More Jobs Available

We are aware of how much employment is being lost in the digital age.

However, geothermal energy is generating a large number of jobs around the globe.

12. Noise Pollution Reduction

Less noise is produced when geothermal energy is used to generate electricity.

The noise and visual pollution that resulted from the generator homes’ installation of dampening materials has been diminished.

13. Non-Renewable Fossil Fuel Sources Are Saved

Geothermal energy is reducing our reliance on fossil fuels for energy production.

Additionally, it increases energy security. If a nation has access to enough geothermal energy, it might not be necessary to import electricity.

Therefore, these are the main benefits of geothermal energy.

Let’s now examine its negative side or the following downsides of geothermal energy:

Geothermal Energy Disadvantages

The following are the disadvantages of geothermal energy

  • Location Restriction
  • Negative Environmental Effects
  • Earthquakes
  • High Costs
  • Sustainability
  • Land Requirement is Large

1. Location Restriction

The fact that geothermal energy is location-specific is its biggest drawback.

Because geothermal plants must be constructed where the energy is available, some regions cannot utilize this resource.

Of course, this is not an issue if you reside somewhere like Iceland where geothermal energy is easily accessible.

2. Negative Environmental Effects

Although greenhouse gases are not normally emitted by geothermal energy, many of them are stored beneath the Earth’s surface and are released into the atmosphere when drilling takes place.

Although these gases are also naturally emitted into the environment, the rate rises in the vicinity of geothermal facilities.

These gas emissions are still far less than those brought on by fossil fuels, though.

3. Earthquakes

Additionally, there is a chance that geothermal energy will cause earthquakes.

This is because digging has changed the structure of the Earth.

This issue is increasingly common with enhanced geothermal power facilities that inject water into the Earth’s crust to widen cracks and allow for greater resource extraction.

The effects of these earthquakes are, however, generally limited because the majority of geothermal units are located far from populated areas.

4. High Costs

Geothermal energy is a costly resource to use; the cost of a plant with a 1-megawatt capacity ranges from $2 to $7 million.

However, where the initial investment is substantial, it can be recovered over time by other investments.

5. Sustainability

Fluid needs to be injected back into the underground reservoirs quicker than it is used up to keep geothermal energy sustainable.

This means that to ensure its sustainability, geothermal energy needs to be controlled effectively.

To account for the benefits while minimizing any potential drawbacks, the industry must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of geothermal energy.

6. Land Requirement is Large

A large land area is required for geothermal energy generation to be profitable.

Installing a geothermal power plant in a city location with significantly less acreage is not at all beneficial.

Conclusion

Each energy source has advantages and disadvantages; some are efficient in some countries but not in others.

Instead of evaluating the effectiveness of various renewable energy sources superficially, we should compare them according to the relative benefits of each unique place.

It is anticipated that global geothermal energy will be able to provide roughly 800-1300 TWh per year in 2050, contributing 2-3% to the world’s electricity generation, given that the use of geothermal energy has been steadily growing at a growth rate of 2% per year while the cost of operations has been declining.

Although geothermal energy has both benefits and drawbacks, it will still be a vital component of the shift to renewable energy sources.

Geothermal Energy Advantages and Disadvantages – FAQs

What are the Advantages of Geothermal Energy?

As explained above, the advantages of Geothermal energy are as follows

  1. Compared to conventional fuels like coal and other fossil fuels, geothermal energy is more environmentally friendly.
  2. Geothermal energy is a renewable resource that will be available because the Earth's heated reserves are refilled naturally, it is both renewable and sustainable.
  3. Geothermal power facilities are thought to be capable of producing a significant amount of energy between 0.0035 and 2 terawatts of energy.
  4. Compared to other renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, geothermal energy offers a consistent stream of energy.
  5. There is no requirement for fuel because geothermal energy is a naturally occurring resource, unlike fossil fuels, which are limited resources that must be mined or otherwise extracted from the earth.
  6. Geothermal energy is currently the subject of extensive research, which means that new technologies are being developed to enhance the energy process.
  7. It costs a lot of money to build up a traditional power plant. However, less money is required for geothermal installation and upkeep.
  8. Geothermal heat pump systems consume between 25% and 30% less electricity for heating and cooling than conventional heating and cooling systems.
  9. Geothermal energy is generating a large number of jobs around the globe.
  10. Less noise is produced when geothermal energy is used to generate electricity.
  11. Geothermal energy is reducing our reliance on fossil fuels for energy production.

Additionally, it increases energy security. If a nation has access to enough geothermal energy, it might not be necessary to import electricity.

Is Geothermal Energy Expensive?

Yes, geothermal energy is expensive. For instance, in the United States, the initial cost of the field and power plant is approximately $2500 per installed kW, or perhaps $3000 to $5000/kWe for a small power station (1Mwe). The cost of operation and upkeep varies from $0.01 to $0.03 per kWh.

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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo to educate the public on the environment and her concerns.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

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