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Geothermal Energy Advantages and Disadvantages

Abhijit Naik Feb 24, 2020
It's important to take a critical look at geothermal energy advantages and disadvantages in order to assess its feasibility as a power source of the future. In this story, we will attempt the same.
Geothermal energy is derived by harnessing geothermal dry steam or hot water that is found beneath the Earth's crust. There exist three different types of geothermal plants ...
  • Dry steam plants in which the steam is directly brought to the plant using pipes.
  • Flash steam plants in which hot water is brought to the plants using pipes and steam is created inside the plant.
  • Binary cycle plants in which hot water found beneath the Earth's crust is mixed with some chemicals to form steam.
The steam that is created in these plants is eventually used to rotate the turbines to produce electricity. The process is almost same in each of these plants; the only difference being the process by which steam is created.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Though promising, it does have some problems of its own, and that shouldn't come as a surprise with so many intricacies involved in the process of geothermal heating. Discussed below are the details of these problems as well as its benefits, both of which have to be taken into consideration before concluding whether this source of energy can replace its carbon-based counterparts or not.
Geothermal Energy Advantages
  • The fact that it doesn't rely on burning of fossil fuels means that it is less polluting compared to those sources that rely on fossil fuels. Also, the plants in which geothermal energy is produced are as environment friendly as the energy in itself.
  • When it comes to this source of energy, we don't have to worry that it will get exhausted anytime soon. As long as heat is being generated beneath the surface of the Earth, we can harness the steam produced by it and generate power.
  • Low cost is yet another advantage that geothermal energy has on the other sources which boast of efficiency.
Geothermal Energy Disadvantages
  • Availability is one of the major issues with geothermal energy. While there is no dearth of hot water and steam beneath the Earth's crust, the regions from where it can be tapped are very few. 
It is very difficult to harness it in regions prone to crustal movements and volcanic eruptions. While high-end technology is used in determining possible sites from where this energy can be tapped, there is no 100 percent assurance that the results would be at par with expectations.
  • Even though the supporters of this form of energy say that this is a clean source of energy, tapping the steam inside the Earth's crust can disturb the methane stores beneath the surface and release it in the atmosphere, thus adding to the greenhouse effect.
  • The initial cost incurred is yet other deterrent when it comes to investment in this source of energy.
The administration has to look into all these benefits and problems before working towards the development of geothermal energy. More importantly, it has to be also compared with other sources of alternative energy, like solar and wind power.
While geothermal energy may seem quite promising, we need to understand that it's in the initial stage of development, and the final results will only be ascertained after all the doubts pertaining to it are cleared.