Thursday, May 23, 2013

The highs and lows of geothermal energy

Geothermal energy is renewable energy source in form of heat stored within the Earth's core. The first obvious advantage of geothermal energy is that this is a renewable energy source because Earth's heat is being constantly replenished by the decay of radioactive elements. Geothermal energy can thus not become exhausted as this is the case with fossil fuels.

Geothermal energy helps reduce the climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions and can lead to lot less pollution in the world. Unlike some other energy sources geothermal energy does not produce waste or toxic substances thus having minimum environmental impact.

Geothermal power plants maintenance and operating costs are almost negligible when compared to fossil fuel fired power plants (in average, the running costs of geothermal power plant  can save around 80% of costs spent on fossil fuels). There is also no energy purchase or transportation costs involve.

Goethermal energy can also help reduce the need for expensive foreign fuel import, and cut our dependence on fossil fuels to provide for heating and electricity.

Unlike solar and wind energy geothermal energy does not suffer from intermittency issue and doesn't depend on weather like solar and wind do.

Geothermal energy is not just highs there are also some lows of using this energy source.  First of all, geothermal power plants are still connected with significant construction costs (especially drilling), which often drives many investors away. Due to high construction costs and expensive drilling there are limited sites that can be the potential sources of geothermal energy (this is the major reason why geothermal energy is currently being harnessed in just 24 countries of the world).

Geothermal power extraction must be done carefully in order to avoid local depletion, and drilling if not done properly can trigger earthquakes. Also, most geothermal sites are located far away from cities and markets meaning that they require new transmission lines that don't come cheap.