In the face of several crises which we are constantly told spell doom for the planet (the environmental crisis, the economic crisis and the energy crisis to name but three… ) one of the main solutions that can promise to save us all is to find alternative sources of energy. This prevents us from being reliant on the fossil fuels that are a) running out, b) damaging the environment and causing the planet to heat up and c) cost the Earth (literally… ).
Fortunately many breakthroughs are promising us just such alternative energy sources and among these are the impressive sounding ‘geothermal energy’. For those not familiar with this concept, the idea is that this energy taps into the heat that is stored deep in the ground – a result of the planet being heated all day long by the sun and the fact that the earth is such a good insulator. The deeper you go, the more constant the temperature is and this allows it in some ways to be more stable an energy source than old-fashioned solar energy.
A large area of land is chosen then, and deep below the surface, many pipes will run through the area. These pipes will run water through themselves and that water will in theory be heated up providing us with energy at no cost. Some residential properties will then use this type of energy for heating as it is easy to then distribute this warm water around other areas in order to heat them.
Of course like any of these alternative energy sources, geothermal energy has pros and cons. Here we will look at what those are and how they affect the usefulness of this kind of energy.
Geothermal Energy Pros
It’s free to use: Once it’s installed, geothermal energy is completely free to use. This means that a company or a household using this to heat their home would be free of monthly bills and that is an incredibly great investment.
It’s clean and renewable: When you use geothermal energy you are not damaging the environment. This is because no fossil fuels are being burned meaning that there are no greenhouse gasses being released into the air. It’s greenhouse gasses which contain heat in our atmosphere and prevent the planet from dispersing heat from the sun as it should, and so by switching to a clean energy source you are reducing your carbon footprint and thereby contributing far less to global warming. At the same time, as you are not using up fossil fuels, this means you are not speeding up the energy crisis meaning that we can use these fuels for longer until we find a long term solution.
It’s stable: Unlike some forms of renewable energy, geothermal energy is constant and this means that you don’t need to worry about whether the weather is good or bad to use it.
Geothermal Energy Cons
The initial price: While geothermal energy is free to use once it is set up, it is highly expensive to get it going in the first place requiring a lot of hassle as you dig up large areas of land and install pipes deep below. As such, many people cannot afford to use geothermal energy. The effort involved in digging up such a large area is also off putting for some.
The amount of land: In order to make use of geothermal energy you need to have a large piece of land and it will not be suitable for small residential gardens.
The amount of energy: While geothermal energy is perfectly suited to heating things through pipes, it does not generate anywhere near enough energy to replace our electricity etc and certainly could replace power plants. Thus it is still necessary for scientists to find other alternative forms of energy.
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