The current situation in the energy market all over the world is quite disappointing, especially considering the effects of coal-fired energy and the infamous drawbacks of nuclear energy. While there are many environmentalists who believe that solar and wind energy can act as our saviors, the fact remains that both these seemingly promising renewable sources are dependent on climatic conditions and hence, aren’t as dependable as the conventional forms of energy which we use. The only way out, according to some, is the use of the abundant heat trapped within the crust of our planet, which we call the geothermal energy.
We all know that the inner layers of our planet are quite hot due to the immense pressure the crust creates, along with the immense heat trapped inside the inner core, which gives us the protective magnetic shield. This is the energy that comes out in the form of volcanic eruptions, the effects of which are documented. Further, according to the laws surrounding energy generation, energy cannot be created but can be transformed from one form to another and this is what scientists are trying with geothermal energy.
- What is geothermal energy:
As its name suggests, geothermal energy is the immense thermal energy stored inside the earth. Originating from the birth of our planet and the radioactive decay of minerals inside the curst, geothermal energy is virtually the root cause of everything, from hot springs to volcanic eruptions. Moreover, since the reservoirs of geothermal energy are essentially renewable, there are many positives from generating electricity from geothermal sources. The figures also confirm our saying, as according to a recent research the amount of heat within 10,000 meters of the earth’s surface contains 50,000 times more energy than all the oil and natural gas reserves that we have.
- How is electricity generated from geothermal energy:
The only way to generate any usable electricity from a geothermal resource is to dig up a geothermal well to access the trapped heat. Once reached, all one has to do is to push water down the well and generate steam, which is then used to run a conventional turbine to generate clean energy.
- The benefits of generating geothermal energy:
Quite obviously, one of the biggest benefits of generating geothermal energy is the fact that there are no emissions in producing steam, for which either we use nuclear energy or coal power. Additionally, unlike other forms of renewable energy, such as solar and wind, geothermal energy is not dependent on climate changes and can hence, produce a sustainable source of energy.
- Some facts about geothermal energy:
Apart from being a free and reliable source of clean and abundant energy, geothermal energy is extremely cost effective, electricity produced by geothermal wells can help utilities, and hence customers save up to 80 percent of their electricity costs. Further, geothermal wells need very limited maintenance and since the entire project is built on one site, there is less set-up cost as compared with other renewable energy power plants. Analysts expect that by the year 2025, United States will be generating about 30GW of clean renewable power by way of harnessing geothermal energy.
- Other promising alternatives:
Although geothermal energy has all the potential to become a reliable, sustainable and cheap source of clean and renewable electricity, it has its share of drawbacks as well. One of the biggest drawbacks of geothermal energy is that there are limited sites that have any geothermal energy harvesting potential and most of these sites are cluttered in a particular area itself. This is the reason why environmentalists have come up with several other promising alternatives for clean energy generation, which include proposals like the space-based solar energy generating system and nuclear fusion plants, which is far safer than the conventional fission systems which are prone to melt-down failures.