The promoters of geothermal energy emphasize its stable, renewable and versatile nature that can help us beat our precarious dependence on fossil fuels. The critics, on the other hand, dismiss it quoting its high capital costs and impacts from land subsidence.
I this article we will juxtapose the most prominent geothermal energy pros and cons based on environmental and economic considerations. We will draw a conclusion based on the results of this inquiry.
Geothermal Energy Pros: Environmental Considerations
From an environmental point of view there are quite compelling arguments in support of geothermal energy.
Geothermal energy is considered a very clean, abundant and inexhaustible energy source. Burning fossil fuels carries an enormous security, environmental, economic and health cost. A variety of substances released by the combustion of fossil fuels including sulfur, nitrogen and carbon contribute to local and global problems like urban smog, acid rain and climate change. On the contrary, geothermal sources release insignificant amounts of pollutants thus helping mitigate the environmental pollution.
Geothermal energy is considered a renewable and sustainable resource. Geothermal energy is considered a renewable resource because there is no risk that the “Earth’s heat” will ever be exhausted. Geothermal energy is also deemed sustainable, because it has the capability to preserve the Earth’s ecosystems. By using geothermal energy, present generations of humans will not endanger the ability of subsequent generations to use their own resources to the same amount that they are presently utilized.
Geothermal energy needs a small land area. Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) plants need significantly less land area per installed MW or delivered MWh when compared with fossil-fueled or even solar-electric plants. Further, such land is not completely occupied by the geothermal plant and may be utilized for cattle-raising or farming. Since EGS plants are not automatically tied to a hydro-thermal area, these sites can be populated, what is a great advantage over conventional plants.