Geothermal power is sourced from energy tapped from beneath the earth’s surface, known as Geothermal Energy.
Geothermal energy contributes positively to the electricity grid in several countries. It also works at a profit for the organizations or governments that run these plants.
Geothermal energy is a renewable source of energy because;
- It naturally occurs beneath the earth’s surface.
- It is readily available and will continue to be for a very long time.
There have been some myths about what Geothermal is, how sustainable it is, what it does to the environment. There have also been some environmental and economic concerns about this source of energy.
This article addresses the myths and the environmental and economic concerns of geothermal power generation while maintaining a clear differentiation of the two.
The Geothermal Power Myths
Questions about how long Geothermal energy will last are common.
These questions are as old as Geothermal discovery itself.
However, it is essential to know that the Earth has vast Geothermal Energy storage that is impossible to deplete because Geothermal Energy is a part of the Earth’s existence.
Questions also exist about whether renewable energy sources such as Geothermal cannot contribute to the power grid 24/7. The answer is quite the contrary. Geothermal energy is produced daily, seven days a week, and does not depend on weather conditions.
Geothermal Power plants are assumed to take up a lot of space, this is true, but one cannot ignore the fact these plants take less space than several other types of power plants. Geothermal power stations averagely take up 404 square meters per gigawatt-hours, which is lesser than coal, solar photovoltaics, and wind power, which take up 3642, 3237, and 1335 square meters per gigawatt-hours, respectively.
The assumption that Geothermal power is only limited to very few places on Earth.
Although the current number of Geothermal power plants is limited, you can tap geothermal energy from as many places as possible through innovation and proper scientific research.
In places where this energy is not available, power supply transmission from other Geothermal power stations can be affected.
Environmental and Economic Concerns of Geothermal Power
Geothermal development and Geothermal power generation affect the environment in several ways. These include:
- Land use: the land occupied by Geothermal development projects goes through changes due to the exploration and plant construction processes.
- Pollution: The occupants of these areas are affected by high noise and light pollution as the development process occurs. These effects may continue even after laying the infrastructure.
- The environment receives an upsurge in the amount of water and gas discharged into the atmosphere.
- The Geothermal power process produces a foul odor due to the release of hydrogen sulfide into the environment. Hydrogen Sulfide in low concentration causes headaches, nausea, skin irritations, and convulsions. High exposures to the gas may induce unconsciousness, leading to a coma, respiratory paralysis, and even death.
Modern technology may come up with solutions to some of these effects. However, it is advisable for residents living near geothermal development projects to relocate to other areas.
Economically, geothermal power plants raise several concerns for geothermal development organizations or governments.
These projects suffer economically due to the High initial costs, such as the finances required for building the infrastructure, including the expenses for drilling wells to find geothermal energy sources and employee insurance since the process may lead to injuries. These factors have a high economic effect on the respective entity.
The project may also suffer high lawsuit settlement costs if the Geothermal development entity does not adequately address the power plant’s environmental effects.
We can address a few considerations to ensure the financial viability of the Geothermal project. These include:
- Extensive research; involves deploying professional geographic and scientific teams when determining appropriate geothermal development locations.
- Investment in high-quality production materials. The materials involved in the production, processing, transmission, and distribution of geothermal power. These include pipes, power lines, useful sensors, drills, temperature control infrastructure, highly effective valve technology.
- Outsourcing vs. insourcing. Take the time to determine which processes require external expertise versus which process can be executed efficiently in-house.
- Proper recordkeeping. Ensure all transactions are recorded to ensure financial accountability.
- Investing in affordable industrial waste disposal technology
- Ensure that the geothermal development process does not generate environmental effects that will cost the company in terms of lawsuits.
Proper financial management for geothermal development mostly involves high initial investments to avoid high costs that arise from maintaining low-quality equipment, procedures, and the project at large.
Geothermal energy is renewable, which means that it is not susceptible to running dry or causing lasting effects to the environment. However, some problems do arise from the process of extracting geothermal energy. These include noise and light pollution, air pollution, high initial development costs, injury costs, possible lawsuit settlement costs.
To correctly manage these Geothermal power concerns, the company, government, or any other entity is required to ensure the process remains safe for the environment, the surrounding community, and the organization’s employees.
Proper research, investment in high-quality materials, striking a balance between outsourcing and insourcing, adequate recordkeeping, and ensuring the process does not extensively affect the environment. A good example would be investing in high-quality globe valves by XHVAL, a china industrial valves manufacturer. These may cumulatively appear capital intensive but will assist in avoiding future costs that have the capability of financially running down the Geothermal business.