Energy is being a hot topic these days. As energy prices soar, many nations are actively searching for alternative ways of producing sufficient amounts of economical and sustainable energy. Geothermal energy is particularly attracting public interest due to its reliability, sustainability and cleanliness. As research efforts aimed at developing new energy sources continue to evolve, geothermal energy may become even more advantageous source of power to meet human needs in the environmentally friendly way.
Specific advantages of geothermal energy include:
Clean and Environmentally Friendly Energy
Burning fossil fuels carries an enormous environmental, security, public health and economic price tag. A variety of pollutants released by the combustion of fossil fuel including sulfur, nitrogen and carbon, are contributing to local, regional and global environmental problems such as urban smog, acid rain and global warming. Burning fossil fuels has been identified as a significant cause of premature deaths from air pollution. Deposits of airborne pollutants from the burning of fossil fuels are changing water and soil chemistry. Meanwhile, geothermal sources release insignificant amounts of pollutants thus helping mitigate the pollution. The emission intensity of geothermal electric plants is on average 122 kg of CO2 per megawatt-hour of electricity—a small percentage of that of regular fossil fuel plants.
Geothermal energy has three general uses.
- Direct use of heat means that geothermal heat is used straightforwardly without being converted to electricity. In this simple use, the warm steam or water are piped into the dwelling to provide heat. This is the most common, oldest and versatile use of geothermal energy. It has found application in district heating, greenhouses, fisheries, mineral recovery, and industrial process heating.
- Electricity generation. In this application hydrothermal systems by utilizing geothermal hot water (or steam) convert geothermal energy into electricity.
- Geothermal heat pumps. These systems pick up heat from the Earth. The system of pipes distributes the heat and sends it to the residence. The system can also work backwards – to cool the building when it is warm outside.