Up to this day, the energy sector has been dominated by the usage of petroleum, natural gas, and coal. Thus, it is not unlikely that one thinks about these three when energy is mentioned. We also need to know about alternative energy sources to guarantee our future and give less harm to our environment. Petroleum, natural gas, and coal are all nonrenewable sources and do not promise to meet the demand for energy needs in the future. This problem can be solved with the introduction of renewable energy sources. The renewable energy sources are, the hydroelectric, biomass, wind, solar, and geothermal (US Energy Information Administration, 2017). This week let’s get into geothermal energy and discuss its advantages and disadvantages in its production and usage process.
To give brief information about geothermal, basically, it is the energy that is produced by the power of hot stream water that is extracted from underground. The hot stream water turns the turbines, and the energy is produced. Below is a basic geothermal power plant model.
It is important to note that there are several types of geothermal power plants, and it is up to the investor to choose the most suitable one according to geographical conditions and financial situation. By 2018, the total installed capacity of geothermal in the entire globe was 14,600 MW (Richter, 2019). Top 5 producers of geothermal energy were the US with 3,639 MW, Indonesia 1,948 MW, Philippines 1,868 MW, Tukey with 1,347and New Zealand with 1,005 MW installed capacity (Richter, 2019).
It is a controversial issue whether the advantages of geothermal energy surpass the disadvantages. To mention the pros, geothermal is known as clean energy as it can be produced without burning fossil fuels, coal, gas, and oil. Also, Binary type of geothermal powerplants essentially releases no emissions (National Geographic). Another pro is that it is inexpensive compared to other energy sources (Greenmatch, 2019). Once the power plant is installed, it has a life expectancy of a minimum of 20 years and does not require unplanned maintenance and produces energy 7/24.
To mention the cons, although it is known as clean energy, it does release greenhouse gases in the extraction process of the hot water underground. Although it was mentioned above as a robust energy form, there is a possibility that the water might cool down, and it might be impossible to produce energy in the power plant. Lastly, the biggest problem is the high investment costs of a geothermal powerplant (Greenmatch, 2019).
It is difficult to say that geothermal is primarily advantageous or disadvantageous. We can see that it is relatively cleaner compared to other energy sources such as the nonrenewable ones. If geothermal power plants are made under strict restrictions and regulations, the environment might get less damage and cool down of the underground water problem can be reduced. Also, if the governments make incentive mechanisms, the issue of high investment costs may vanish. Thus, the disadvantages might be omitted someway as written above, and the geothermal may turn into an advantageous energy source. Nevertheless, the greenhouse emission will mostly be a problem in energy production, including geothermal energy. Until a better source of energy is found, geothermal energy is one of the cleanest out there when we mention the greenhouse gasses and the environment.