You Decide - Weighing the Pros and Cons of Geothermal Energy
Before we can begin to discuss the advantages and disadvantages, we need to have a clear understanding of what exactly geothermal energy is. 4,000 miles below the Earth's surface is incredibly hot...
4,000 miles below the Earth's surface is incredibly hot. It is thought to be over 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit. While this temperature is extremely dangerous and must be avoided, if you were to drill about 3 or 4 miles below the Earth's surface, you can find a hot rock that is far less dangerous, and it is at only 300 to 400 Fahrenheit. This rock and heat can be used as a constant source of heat but would prove to be very expensive.
Now while drilling and using this hot rock can be extremely expensive, there are other alternatives. In some places, only a few hundred feet below the surface there are areas that have combined this hot rock and underground water to produce hot water streams. This is the most economic source of heat below the earth and can be used in a number of ways. The heat can be used to heat homes, businesses and even run large farms or provide energy for greenhouses.
The constant source of geothermal energy comes with a number of benefits and a number of concerns. These pros and cons mostly relate to environmental issues, overall cost and reliability.
In terms of environmental effects, the impact of geothermal energy has more benefits than disadvantages. Geothermal facilities do not emit any emissions and on the whole, these factories take up far less space than any gas plants that are used for the same process. This is because the facilities do not require any underground pipelines to distribute fuel. Essentially geothermal energy is a universal contributor to a cleaner, safer and healthier environment.
On top of the environmental benefits, geothermal plants are not only more efficient but are also very reliable. The system is much simpler all around and there are a lot less problems that can occur in maintaining the facility. There is also no waste disposal and transport of fuel required to run the factory and produce energy.
The main con when discussing geothermal energy is the overall cost. The start up cost for geothermal power plants is quite substantial and this is the main argument against the energy source. However the truth is that this initial cost is often compensated for rather quickly as operation costs are extremely low in comparison to other sources of energy. The costs of drilling and maintaining these plants are also decreasing steadily.
The technology used for geothermal energy is constantly improving and geothermal plants are becoming more readily available. There is no denying the technology involved and once we continue to lower the overall cost, there will be no limit to the benefits that we can take advantage of through the use of geothermal energy.
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