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Home Sustainability renewable energies Geothermal energy: efficiency and environmental benefit

Geothermal energy: efficiency and environmental benefit

Geothermal energy: efficiency and environmental benefit

Industrial and technological developments and the growth in energy consumption have required more and more energy production and therefore an exponential increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Science and technology will then try to work in synergy to resolve a compromise between energy demand and environmental protection. Several forms of renewable energy were explored and developed on a large scale, in particular geothermal energy, which are assumed to emit less GHGs than fossil fuels.

 

Geothermal energy is a form of renewable energy that is seen as the future of environmentally friendly energy. It is widely rated as having a low carbon footprint compared to fossil fuel sources, plus it can last for millions of years.

Where does geothermal energy come from?

The earth naturally presents a strong heat in the basement where the temperatures touch 1000 degrees. This heat is then extracted by digging, and the more we dig the higher the heat is reached. Geothermal energy then consists of using this heat for the production of electricity or heat.

How to extract heat from the Earth?

To extract heat trapped in the earth’s crust, a geothermal power plant is installed at the target site. It consists of a set of equipment for recovering the heat contained in the geothermal fluid, then transferring it, in the form of heat or electricity, to energy distribution circuits.

geothermal power plant
a geothermal power plant © geothermie-perspectives.fr (ADEME/BRGM)

The efficiency and the benefit of of geothermal energy

One of the main reasons why geothermal energy plays a key role in the conversion to a more sustainable world is its “non-negative” impact on the environment. But, this impact differs depending on how it is handled or converted into usable energy.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), less than 1% of CO2 emissions in the United States in 2018 came from geothermal power plants. Nevertheless, the efficiency and environmental benefit of using geothermal energy remains a large area of ​​research and projection.

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Geothermal energy; what advantages?

The use of renewable energies in general has a multidimensional benefit, in particular the guarantee of energy security, the reduction of global warming and sustainable development.

 

And what limits?

For geothermal energy, some studies support the idea that it is not completely clean. The use of geothermal energy can have positive and negative environmental impacts. Its negative impact arises mainly from the thermal and chemical pollution it causes. Therefore, other thermal and / or mechanical energy alternatives need to be analyzed such as the wastewater treatment plant.

It should also be noted that geothermal power plants are not yet regulated regarding the maximum temperature of their thermal effluents and the maximum concentrations of harmful chemical components released. Geothermal energy can also give off sulfur vapors if used in the form of water or heat.

The majority of thermal pollution could be avoided through the use of low temperature heating installations or a sequence of installations using any temperature range. Geothermal energy is also considered not to be 100% renewable because it requires electricity generators.

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