The Numerous Advantages Of Geothermal Energy



The advantages of geothermal energy are powerful and plentiful as the following information points out.

Round-the-clock reliability

When energy utilities are planning power plants a decisive factor they take into account is the reliability factor. It is crucial that the energy source is able to provide what is commonly referred to as “baseload-power”, a term that refers to constant supply over a 24 hour period. Geothermal energy is ideal for this as once the source is tapped the supply is continuous.

The energy is quite scalable from large scale plants to smaller neighborhood systems.

Economic benefits and job creation

Every new geothermal project provides a wide range of jobs ranging through start-up, exploration, feasibility drilling, drilling and construction and operations and maintenance. To give an example, in 2012 a new plant is planned for California's Imperial Valley. It is estimated that it will employ 323 workers during construction and 57 personnel for ongoing operations and maintenance.

In addition, such projects purchase good and services from areas outside the immediate state or region, thus spreading the economic benefits.

Geothermal energy produces low cost power and is more than competitive with other renewable energy sources. For more information on this aspect, please visit our costs of geothermal energy page.

Environmental benefits

This is a powerful benefit among the geothermal energy advantages. Geothermal energy production emits extremely low levels of greenhouse gases with the level varying depending on the operational cycle that is employed in the project. For example, binary and binary/flash cycles the the lowest emitters but even dry steam (an older technology) is still much better than the burning of fossil fuels.

The comparative benefit is well illustrated in the following graph:

graph showing comparative emissions for geothermal energy


Versatility

A key geothermal energy advantage is the fact that it is so versatile, ranging from utility-scale power plants producing electricity to individual home heat pumps for both heating and cooling. Geothermal energy can also be used in agricultural greenhouses, for de-icing footpaths and roads and in spas.

Availability

Sometimes overlooked in the consideration of geothermal energy advantages is the fact that it is so readily available. We tend to think that it is only available in areas close to volcanoes or rock faults. However, it is available in a much wider than that, even for large scale operations. As the drilling technologies improve it is highly likely that the energy can be accessed in a greater number of areas and still at a cost -competitive figure.

In addition, we mustn't forget the easy availability of heat pump technology in everyone's backyard. Only a few meters down the temperature of the earth is such that the differential between that and the surface is sufficient to operate the heat pumps in either direction – heating or cooling.

National security

The development of indigenous renewable energy resources such as geothermal energy decreases the need for importing oil and gives any country energy security.

As you can see from the above, the advantages of geothermal energy are considerable and over the next few years we will see more resources set aside for its development.

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