In order to better understand the whole geothermal energy concept we also need to point out advantages and disadvantages of this renewable energy source. First we'll start with the geothermal energy advantages.
Direct use of geothermal energy is definitely one of geothermal energy advantages. Since ancient times, people have used geothermal power directly for purposes of taking baths, preparing meals, and today this renewable source of energy is primarily used for heating homes or buildings mostly through the use of district heating systems. These heating systems pipe hot water into buildings from the surface of the earth, and are available for immediate use.
Geothermal energy is ecologically acceptable renewable energy source because of low greenhouse gas emissions. The biggest problem with fossil fuels is that they during combustion release harmful emissions to our environment. This results in not only climate change problem, but also in acid rain and other pollutants. Geothermal energy releases negligible emissions compared to fossil fuels. In most cases, the "geothermal fuel" is free, although with the "hot rock" method water must be used, and may have to be transported there. Once the power stations are built they cost very little to operate.
Ground-based heat pumps can be used almost anywhere. For instance even snowy Canada uses them.
Geothermal energy is also renewable energy source, and this means that this energy source won't disappear after some time. Geothermal energy can constantly be at our disposal because the earth continually replenishes our water supply through rain, and the earth's interior is in a constant state of producing heat. When we combine this we get the energy source capable of both heating as well as cooling homes that is constant and is doing no damage to environment.
Like with all other energy source geothermal energy also has some disadvantages that we should be mentioning. So here are few of them.
Geothermal energy isn't widely spread source of energy and most countries do not make use of geothermal energy, which in many cases results in difficulties during the geothermal system installation in your home or office because it is hard to find qualified personnel for the job, and even if you find them they cost you lot.
There are also some difficulties during the installation process because in order to install geothermal system requirements are usually wide spaces and long pipes. This of course can be quite tricky to do in areas with very dense population.
Geothermal sites can run out of steam, as their temperatures drop to low. This can happen naturally or if a "hot rock" extraction method is mismanaged, and the water injected cools the rocks.
Not every area has accessible geothermal sources. The hot rocks and water must be within drilling range (except in the case of natural geysers).
There is no guarantee a given site, regardless of its location, will produce enough energy to offset the capital expenditure and operating costs.
Geothermal energy overview:
1. Geothermal energy - Quick overview
2. Geothermal energy - How to use (previous)
3. Geothermal energy - Advantages and disadvantages (current)
4. Geothermal energy - Technology and power plants (next)