The bulk of primary energy sources comes from the Earth in the form of fossil fuels. We take fossil fuels from the earth, break it up to release the energy, and then release the residue out into the atmosphere. This creates the imbalance as can be seen from the amount of pollution, CO2 emissions, climate change, and global warming. To compensate for this we are now contemplating capturing and sending back the CO2 for storage in the Earth’s reservoirs to complete the cycle.
Geothermal plants tap the heat from the Earth and directly convert it to electricity, thus giving us some advantages.
Advantages of Geothermal Engergy
Geothermal is a steady source of energy.
- Unlike wind power geothermal is a steady 24/7 power source. This is ideal for a reliable and steady base load operation.
- The energy source is steady for a very long period. Many geothermal wells are in service for more than 20 years.
Geothermal plants have no or only minimal environmental effects.
- No displacement of people in large areas like Hydro,
- No effect on the vegetation or agriculture or forests. In fact all can go side by side.
- Re-injection of the condensate or brine back into the Earth through the wells eliminate waste disposal problems.
- No pollution since there is no SO2, Nox or CO2 emissions.
- No ash to be disposed off.
There is no requirement of large water bodies like nuclear or thermal plants
- Condensed water itself is the cooling medium.
- All plant cooling water requirements are from the condensed water.
- There is no associated pollution of water nor damage to aquatic life.
The infrastructure requirement is also less than other plants.
- The area required is almost a quarter of what is required for a coal fired power plant.
- The load on infrastructure like roads, ports, and other logistics is considerably less.
The technology level is less than high pressure steam power plants or nuclear plants
- Since the energy levels are comparatively low no special materials are required.
- Unlike nuclear there is no risk of radioactivity or any associated problems.
The effects of cost increases are minimal.
- Since the basic cost of energy is practically zero so it is not subject to inflation or other changes in cost factors unlike fossil fuels.
Locating viable thermal sources, high costs and risks of exploratory drilling and development are the main impediments in implementing geothermal power plants.