Advantages of using geothermal energy include lower operating costs than many other fuel sources, pollution-free energy creation, and a reduction in the use of non-renewable fossil fuels such as coal and oil. Further advantages include practical small-scale use by individuals and businesses outside the power grid and the creation of jobs.
While geothermal energy plants incur significant set up costs prior to operation, once functional the plants create energy up to 80 percent more cheaply than fossil fuel plants.
As the primary byproduct in the creation of geothermal energy is water, it is one of the cleanest fuels available. The environmental effects of this pollution-free energy source are magnified by the reduction of pollutants from other fuel sources where geothermal energy replaces fossil fuel plants.
One disadvantage of geothermal energy is that it only exists as a cost-effective energy source in certain locations. The most cost-effective sources occur near the Earth's surface, while others require moderate drilling to access the geothermal heat. In locations where geothermal activity occurs near the surface, homeowners and businesses can create small geothermal plants to provide direct power to buildings or to tie into the power grid. Instead of building small power plants, other building owners use geothermal energy to provide heating without converting the heat into electricity.