Renewable energy is the future. The world is starting to shift the energy industry from non-renewable energy sources, such as coal, fossil fuels, and natural gases, into renewable energy such as geothermal, hydro, solar, and wind energy sources.
Coal and fossil fuels are depletable. Time will come that it will all be used up. As early as now, we need to find other sustainable energy sources. Geothermal energy is one of the viable options we have.
Geothermal energy is heat generated in the earth’s subsurface, stored in rocks and fluids. It can provide energy for heating, cooling, and electricity.
Though geothermal energy sounds like a good investment, you need to scrutinize the project and look at both its pros and cons. A well-prepared financial model helps assess the overall viability of your geothermal project.
Let’s discuss in detail both the advantages and disadvantages of geothermal energy below.
Pros and Cons of Geothermal Energy
- Renewable Energy. Heat is naturally stored beneath the earth’s surface, needs to be tapped. Geothermal energy is not weather-dependent, unlike solar and wind energy sources. It can operate all-year-round.
- Minimal Environmental Effects. Geothermal energy still greenhouse gasses. But compared to non-renewable energy, it is minimal. Also, it doesn’t burn fuels and natural gases to run the operation.
- Stable Source of Energy. The power output of geothermal energy can be predicted with high-accuracy, especially with the new development in this sector. Geothermal energy can provide a baseload of power.
- Potential Exploration of Untapped Geothermal Energy Sources. There are many untapped geothermal reservoirs available yet to be discovered. For 2018, the installed capacity is 13,227 MW with an electricity generation of 88,408 GWh. The estimated potential of geothermal generation is 200 GW.
- Location Specific. Geothermal powerplants can be set-up in areas where geothermal reservoirs are available. Countries like Iceland, the Philippines, and the United States utilized their geothermal energy resource and put-up geothermal power plants. It would be more expensive to set-up in areas where reservoirs and geothermal resources are challenging to explore.
- Expensive Setting-up. The exploration alone will require a massive investment. And can be a hit-and-miss project. Setting up the powerplant will need a vast sum as well. With the current technology, subsidies, and energy prices, geothermal energy cannot be tapped in a cost-efficient setting. Developers should be willing to take the risk and start the exploration and drilling.
- Can Cause Surface Instability. Digging up the beneath the earth’s crust can cause surface instability and even sinking of the earth’s surface. The possibility is higher the more power plants are installed.
- Environmental concerns. Though greenhouse emission is relatively lower than fossil fuels and coals, geothermal energy also poses a danger to the environment. There are stored greenhouse gases on the earth’s surface, released at a higher rate through digging.
The pros and cons of a geothermal project must be appropriately assessed. Evaluate if it would be financially viable to do the exploration and setting up of power plants. Advantages are more prominent than disadvantages when the project provides more economical and environmental benefits.