Geothermal energy: advantages and disadvantages

When we talk about geothermal energy we refer to the type of energy that comes from the internal heat of the Earth , from which heat energy can be extracted that can be used to produce electricity. Next we will know how to make this type of energy and its main advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages Geothermal EnergyDisadvantages Geothermal Energy
-It is a natural energy
-It is an economic energy
-It is an ecological energy
-It is a reliable energy
-It can be produced throughout the day
-It is easy to control
Deterioration of the landscape
-Contamination indirect
-Requires specific conditions
-Risk of earthquakes
-have a price very high installation
-Generates physical deterioration of the place
‘They have easy transportation and storage.
-It needs very elaborate field studies and specialized machinery.

What is geothermal energy?

The geothermal energy is that energy stored in form of heat beneath the surface of the solid earth , which includes the heat stored in rocks, soil and groundwater, no matter what its temperature, depth and origin. It is a type of energy that is more or less renewable and of volcanic origin , this means that it is about taking advantage of the internal heat of the Earth to produce caloric energy or be used to produce electricity.

As you approach the core of the planet , temperatures begin to rise markedly, since there is much more pressure, more gravity and less distance from the core of the earth, which is made of molten metal. It is for this reason that numerous deposits of boiling water can be found underground, which can be released and sent to the surface, giving rise to large steam jets, hot springs and geysers, which have been used by humanity forever. These deposits are very common in areas of great volcanic activity.

The heat that is enclosed in the earth tends to diffuse inside until it can escape through the earth’s crust , giving rise to geothermal energy, which is a diffuse energy that is difficult to use. This temperature is distributed irregularly depending on the areas of the earth’s crust. The magna pockets that come from the deepest areas of the earth move towards the areas of less pressure and when they come into contact with the rocks they melt and release large amounts of gases that tend to escape through the cracks and fissures of the crust. giving rise to different phenomena that we know as volcanic eruptions, fumaroles and solfataras, geysers and hot or thermal water outlets.

The geothermal energy is popular because it comes from a renewable source, although there are certain complications that can lead to the extinction of the deposits. As we detailed, the deposits can be of three types:

-Dry : They are deposits of steam and hot gas, devoid of water in liquid state.

-Hot water: They can be sources or underground aquifer deposits, whose waters are compressed at high temperatures.

-Geysers : They are hot springs with such high pressure that they must sporadically expel steam or boiling water towards the surface in the form of large jets.

How is geothermal energy obtained?

This type of energy comes from the waters of the earth’s subsoil , where pressure and temperature occur naturally. In these deposits different geometric plants are usually installed that release the water or the value and are used to extract the heat and redirect it or to generate electricity. Then they return the water at ordinary temperature to the well to be able to give continuity to the cycle. There are other more homemade forms of obtaining such as heating by geothermal pumps, which allow the use of gas or boiling water from the subsoil to be able to provide heat to homes, among others.

Advantages of geothermal energy

Among the main advantages of geothermal energy we can find:

-It is a natural energy : This means that it comes from the planet itself, so it does not have a technological or biological risk to consider.

-It is an economic energy : it does not need constant raw material, nor does it depend on a market for inputs that generates changes in prices. Although the first stage is expensive, then it is really inexpensive.

-It is an ecological energy : This implies that it does not generate large waste in the environment, or annoying noise and the emission of gases it generates is much lower than that generated by other forms of obtaining energy, such as the burning of fossil fuels. In addition, it takes advantage of modest extensions, without the need to dam rivers or cut down forests.

-It is a reliable energy : This implies an inexhaustible source of energy. The earth emits so much heat that this energy is inexhaustible and can be used without supply problems.

-It can be produced throughout the day : To generate this energy there are no better and worse hours. You can work on them 24 hours a day.

-It is easy to control : It implies that it is possible to predict how much will be generated. This is a positive point about solar energy or wind energy, which depend directly on the weather.

Disadvantages of geothermal energy

Among the main disadvantages of geothermal energy we can find:

– Deterioration of the landscape : The installation of this type of plants usually has a cost in terms of landscape and this impacts to some extent on tourism.

– Indirect contamination: The water that is extracted from the subsoil can be accompanied by polluting substances that, when evaporating, must be disposed of in some way and this can become toxic.

– It requires specific conditions : It implies that the deposits cannot be made anywhere but must be volcanic areas.

– Risk of earthquakes: It may happen that the water reinjected into the well cool the magma, and this generates micro- earthquakes that exterminate the reservoir forever.

-They have a very high installation cost: Building a plant with these characteristics is equal to or more expensive than a nuclear one.

-Generates a physical deterioration of the place from which the energy is extracted.

-Its transport and storage is not easy.

-It needs very elaborate field studies, as well as specialized machinery that is not very easy to obtain.

Examples of geometric energy

Among the best known deposits of this type of energy we can find:

-The volcanoes : They are the best known and devastating expression of geothermal energy, consist of explosions underground matter that shed boiling magma (known as lava), toxic gases and fly ash to the environment. They have a gigantic but unusable energy potential.

– The Geysers: They are geoelectric plants located 116 km from the city of San Francisco in the United States and it is considered the largest complex of its kind in the world. It can produce more than 950 MW of electricity, being at 63% of its productive capacity and taking advantage of the steam emanating from more than 350 active geysers.

-El Horno-Asador de Timanfaya : It is located in the Canary Islands, and takes advantage of the magmatic activity of the region to bake a famous restaurant called “El Diablo” on the island of Lanzarote. This oven takes advantage of a well that goes directly into the subsoil.

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