In simple words, geothermal energy is the heat from inside the earth. The term ‘geothermal’ has been derived from two Greek words, ‘geo’ that means the earth and ‘therme’ that means heat. Hence, geothermal energy means the energy that has been derived from within the earth’s surface. The earth produces hot water and steam within its surface, which are used for generating electricity and heating buildings. Presently, geothermal energy is the best renewable source of energy, since heat is continuously produced within the earth and the water is replenished by the rains. This form of energy has its own pros and cons. Though it is comparatively inexpensive on one hand; on the other hand, the initial costs incurred on it are too high for many nations. Read on to know the advantages and disadvantages of geothermal energy.
Advantages & Disadvantages Of Geothermal Energy
- Geothermal energy is used for heating buildings through district heating systems. These systems pipe hot water from the surface of the earth into buildings and are available for immediate use.
- Burning fuels to produce energy has caused harmful emissions in our environment, resulting in acid rain and other pollutants. Using geothermal energy reduces acid rain by 97%.
- Since geothermal energy is renewable, the water supply is replenished through rain and heat is continuously produced by the earth’s interior. Thus, this energy is capable of cooling and heating our homes without affecting the environment.
- After a geothermal power plant is established at a site, minimum channels are required to channel it, thus making geothermal energy very efficient.
- Geothermal power plants do not have to be as large in size as atomic power plants, huge dams and electrical plants. This reduces the impact of the power plants on the environment.
- Locating a site for trapping geothermal energy requires certain factors to be taken into consideration. For instance, the well have to be drilled at such a place where it can provide hot rocks in the layer of the earth crust’s, which can heat the water pumped into the well at suitable level.
- A well can be dug only where the layer of rocks is sitting above the hot rocks and is easy to drill through. Since such sites are not easily available, use of geothermal energy is hampered.
- Using geothermal energy results in the emission of hazardous gases such as hydrogen sulfide, which come to the surface of the earth along with the hot water.
- There are other materials also that come along with hot water and cause health hazards, like arsenic, mercury and ammonia. They cause environmental pollution, which is not easy to deal with.
- Since the sites for trapping geothermal energy are usually located in areas that have volcanoes or are frequently rocked by earthquakes, not many investors agree to invest in them.
- In case the steam is not produced to the correct mark, the entire project becomes economically difficult to sustain.
- Since the layers in the earth are at a constant, the well can dry up at some point of time, leading to closure of the electricity plant and financial losses.