Renewable energy: Sustainability of Geothermal Energy
Geothermal energy is a renewable resource that has the potential to be the much-needed successor to a fossil fuel-powered world. For a source of power to be adopted globally, it needs to be affordable, environmentally friendly, renewable and sustainable. This article provides an in depth glance at the sustainability of geothermal energy.
Let’s explore the benefits and challenges of geothermal energy, and discuss whether or not it can be sustainably used on a large scale.
What is Geothermal Energy?
The Earth is warm underneath. Digging just a few feet underground will reveal stable, warm temperatures as opposed to the temperature on the surface most of the year.
If you dig further down, you will eventually reach the bottom of Earth’s crust. Going below the crust, you will begin your journey through the mantle, which is mostly solid/semi-solid rock. Temperatures here are roughly about 6692°F or 3700°C.
But that’s not all, after crossing 2850 kilometers (1770 miles) of mantle, you will reach the liquid core, which is only about 2200 kilometers thick. Beyond the liquid core, you will find the absoluter center of the Earth, the solid core. The temperature at the inner core is 9392°F or 5200°C.
Geothermal energy is derived from the Earth’s heat. The earth’s heat is transferred from the Earth’s core, through the mantle, and all the way to the Earth’s crust. We can tap into Earth’s heat in areas with high volcanic activity or where the Earth’s crust is thin. This heat is used to generate electricity and heating. There are several ways to extract geothermal energy:
1. Drilling through the earth’s crust
2. Injection of water, steam, or hot air into the ground
3. Using magma directly (Relatively new, and only found in Iceland as of today)
4. Pumping hot water or steam from underground reservoirs
What are The Benefits of Geothermal Energy?
Geothermal energy is a renewable form of energy that comes from the heat found beneath the Earth’s surface.
Geothermal energy can be used to produce electricity. Additionally, it can be used to heat and cool spaces without the use of electricity from the grid. Geothermal water heaters use geothermal energy to heat water. Using geothermal energy is many times cheaper than burning fossil fuels, since the heat required to vaporize water comes without any extra costs.
The sustainability of geothermal energy is another major advantage it comes with. It’s sustainability arises from the fact that the Earth’s core will not be cooling for millions of years to come. We will discuss this in more detail in the section below.
Geothermal energy is environmentally friendly. They do not produce greenhouse gasses unlike burning fossil fuels. The reason for this is that no carbon dioxide is released when generating electricity using the Earth’s natural heat. This also means that they can help reduce climate change effects in the future. In addition, geothermal systems are often installed in locations far from areas of high biodiversity.
Another benefit of geothermal energy is its reliability. The Earth’s heat is available everyday throughout the year. The only additional requirement is a source of water, and a proper water supply is nearly always installed in geothermal power plants. Geothermal systems are can continue producing power regardless of the weather conditions, seasons or any other outside influence.
Sustainability of geothermal energy
The simple definition of sustainability is a resource lasting long enough to be used by several generations, or a resource being renewable, thus never running out. The answer to the sustainability of geothermal energy lies in it’s source: Earth’s heat.
The answer is, geothermal energy is perfectly sustainable. It is the sustainability of geothermal energy that makes it an excellent candidate to replace fossil fuel powerplants.
The sustainability of geothermal energy comes from the fact that the Earth’s insides will not cool for millions of years to come. This means that we can always find a reliable source of power and heat if we dig a few miles below the Earth’s surface.
The sustainability of geothermal energy is one major advantage that makes it a much better choice than fossil fuels. In fact, geothermal energy may be the successor to the current fossil fuel dominated world we live in.
Building geothermal powerplants comes with several advantages. Geothermal powerplants are environmentally friendly, reliable and sustainable. It is often times also more affordable to use a geothermal system than burning fossil fuels.
It has a lot of potential to play a role in mitigating climate change. The technology is already here, and it is making rapid advances with every passing day, and with concerted effort from policymakers and developers alike, geothermal could be an important part of the future we want for our planet.