Geothermal energy is a buzz term gaining ground these days as we strive for more renewable resources that can help us generate electricity and ultimately have a healthier world.
The literal meaning of the word "geothermal" is derived from "geo," or earth, and "thermal," or heat. In other words, geothermal energy originates from the earth…or inside the earth to be precise.
A renewable natural resource at our disposal…what could be wrong with that? And if there is any downside, does it outweigh the positive?
To answer these questions, it's important to examine the pros and cons closely, and weigh each against our capabilities and the long-term benefits.
Pros of Geothermal Power
* Direct use of geothermal energy. Since ancient times, people have used geothermal power directly for purposes of taking baths, preparing meals, and heating homes or buildings. Today, heating buildings is the most common direct use of geothermal energy, and it's accomplished through use of district heating systems. These systems pipe hot water into buildings from the surface of the earth, and are available for immediate use.
* Low emissions. The biggest problem we've experienced with burning fuels for energy over time is that the act produces harmful emissions to our environment. This often results in acid rain and other pollutants. With geothermal energy use, approximately 97% of acid rain is eliminated.
* Renewable. As previously stated, geothermal energy is renewable. That means it will always 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. Combined, this energy is capable of heating and cooling homes, we never run out of it, and there are virtually no harmful effects to our environment.
Cons of Geothermal Power
* Most countries do not make use of geothermal energy, and as a result, if you desire installation in your home or office, it may be a little harder to find qualified personnel for the job.
* For installation, wide spaces and long pipes are needed. As a result, areas of dense population will have a tougher time getting geothermal energy into homes.
* While geothermal energy is a cost effective form of energy, it won't be that way overnight. Since most of the world doesn't use it at all, the cost for global, or even national, implementation won't be an easy one for taxpayers to bear.
And in that last point lays the problem geothermal energy faces.
Many raise this question: with the economy having seen better days, and hard-working people unable to afford the most basic luxury, can anyone really afford to pay the price tag? On the other hand, as global warming increases, weather patterns get crazier, and the possibility of natural catastrophe from polar shifting, lay in wait, can any of us really afford not to?
Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of the pros and cons of geothermal energy.