What are the benefits and disadvantages of geothermal energy?


Quick Answer

While geothermal energy is very environmentally friendly and does not produce large quantities of pollution, only limited sites have the potential for energy generation and upfront costs are often considerable. Geothermal energy has the potential to reduce reliance on fossil fuels with upper estimates indicating a worldwide potential energy generation of 2 terawatts.

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Full Answer

Geothermal power generation is an environmentally sustainable and renewable resource. Geothermal reservoirs replenish themselves naturally when properly managed and geothermal power plants typically produce very little pollution. Downsides of geothermal energy production include the potential to create earthquakes in extreme situations, the release of harmful or toxic gases during the drilling process, and the limited availability of viable construction sites. Geothermal energy has the potential to create clean abundant energy but is not in widespread use to due high installation cost and the greater ease of transport associated with coal, oil and other conventional fossil fuels .

Geothermal energy production utilizes the heat of the earth to generate electrical power. Drill sites at or near geothermal power plants tap into geothermal reservoirs that provide the thermal energy needed to generate electrical power. Heat from the earth boils water to create steam; the steam spins turbines which produce electrical energy.

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