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The Possibilities and Limitations of Geothermal Energy

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You’d think that in today’s world, the average Joe doesn’t need much more convincing that renewables are the future of energy. It’s no secret that the fossil fuels we currently use to fuel our modern lifestyles are largely contributing to climate change, through increased exponentially increased emissions. What’s more, fossil fuels aren’t an unlimited source of energy and can easily run out as the demand for energy rises. Turning to alternative and renewable sources of energy is one way to secure the stability of our planet, while also fulfilling human energy needs. 

In this regard, geothermal energy is one of many alternative sources of energy that harnesses the pockets of steam, hot water, and rock beneath the Earth’s surface to generate electricity and power heating/cooling systems. As with most things, geothermal energy has its own set of benefits and limitations. Here, we take a look at some of its duplicities: 


The most obvious, surface-level advantages of geothermal energy include its constant availability, environmental friendliness, and its relatively low cost. When compared to other sources of renewable energy, like wind and solar power, geothermal energy makes for the most reliable option.  Wind doesn’t blow every day, and the sun isn’t always shining — but the heat under the Earth’s surface is available virtually anytime. Since it can be extracted without burning fossil fuels, geothermal energy is also more eco-friendly, resulting in lower emissions. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, geothermal power plants emit produce, “97% less acid rain-causing sulfur compounds and about 99% less carbon dioxide than fossil fuel power plants of similar size. 

In terms of expenditure, direct use of geothermal energy can save as much as 80%when compared to fossil fuels. In fact, geothermal energy is recognized as the world’s greenest heating/cooling system, with geothermal heat pumps providing a much more efficient and cost-effective alternative than conventional residential systems. Today, research shows that “up to 95% of geothermal system owners would recommend installing such a system in the home.”

Much like the nature of geothermal energy, its advantages go a bit deeper. Not only is geothermal energy already established as a source of sustainable power, but it also has benefits in terms of job creation. Only workers with adequate training can properly harness the power of geothermal energy. Renewable energy engineers are thus in great demand, ranging from the need for more chemical and electrical engineers to mechanical and industrial engineers. 


Even though it would be ideal if geothermal energy came with no strings attached, this isn’t the case. One major concern around geothermal energy, as articulated by GreenMatch, is in regards to its extraction — often, the extraction of geothermal energy “leads to a release of greenhouse gases like hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia.” While this shouldn’t be ignored, it is worth noting that the amount of emissions from geothermal energy extraction is still significantly lower than that of fossil fuels. 

Scientists have acknowledged this and taken steps to find a viable solution in the form of a binary plant — a geothermal plant that passes hot water by a secondary fluid with a much lower boiling point, This causes the secondary fluid to turn to vapor and turn the turbines for extraction, resulting in virtually no emissions through the process. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy predicts that a massive chunk of geothermal electricity in the future will come from binary plants.

Another limitation of geothermal energy is the initial cost required for geothermal exploration. While geothermal energy has the potential to save money in the long run, the initial capital needed to build a plant and harness it can be quite prohibiting in nature. This, paired with the lack of government buy-in makes for a pretty big hurdle to overcome. For instance, both Texas (USA) and Chile have been identified as potential areas in which geothermal energy would be very advantageous, but these opportunities have not been capitalized upon due to the aforementioned obstacles. 

However, as illustrated by Greenmatch, if governments were to buy into geothermal energy as is with the case of Iceland — where almost the entire country runs on it – this obstacle could be overcome. The US government has recently chosen to take a page out of Iceland’s book, by agreeing to set aside a significant amount of funding towards geothermal exploratory research. This is a small step, but definitely one in the right direction. 

The Way Forward

There’s no doubt that geothermal energy shows a lot of promise for our common future. Yes, it does come with limitations, but so far, these are outweighed by its benefits. While geothermal energy isn’t flawless, it must be recognized that it makes for a much better alternative to the fossil fuel-supported course we currently find ourselves on.

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10 Comments on "The Possibilities and Limitations of Geothermal Energy"

  1. makati1 on Wed, 19th Feb 2020 9:35 pm 

    “Search Results
    Featured snippet from the web
    Image result for Philippine geothermal energy
    The Philippines is one of the world’s top producers of geothermal power, owing to its location along the Ring of Fire zone of Pacific volcanoes. … As of 2010, the US had a capacity of 3093 megawatts of geothermal power, while that of the Philippines was 1904 megawatts. The Philippines was followed by Mexico with 958 MW.” Google

  2. Richard Guenette on Thu, 20th Feb 2020 7:15 am 

    We should build a massive dam to control rising sea levels (example: build a massive dam connecting the Netherlands with the UK and another dam connecting Scotland with Scandinavia). Just a suggestion.

  3. Abraham van Helsing on Thu, 20th Feb 2020 7:39 am 

    “We should build a massive dam to control rising sea levels (example: build a massive dam connecting the Netherlands with the UK and another dam connecting Scotland with Scandinavia). Just a suggestion.”

    You suggest as if it was your idea, where in reality it is a desperate Dutch idea, because the Dutch will the most prominent victims om rising sea levels. The Dutch took a lot of land from the sea. The sea will take it back.

    The idea is insane, the North Sea is more than 300 m deep. It would make more sense to build a dike parallel to the coast in very shallow water.

    But in the end it makes more sense to abandon investing in cities like Amsterdam and go to Canada or something.

  4. Davy on Thu, 20th Feb 2020 9:12 am 

    “In Suprise Flip, Turkey Asks US For Patriot Missiles “To Deter” Russia In Idlib” zero hedge

  5. Davy on Thu, 20th Feb 2020 11:38 am 

    “After Failing With Worm-Burgers, Norwegian Grocery Chain To Launch Cricket Burgers” zero hedge

    “After failing to convince consumers to buy worm burgers, a Norwegian grocery chain is trying to market burgers made from ground up crickets. Judging by some of the respondents to the article, the cricket burgers are probably going to be as unpopular as the worm burgers.

    “There no chance in hell I would eat this,” said one.”

    “No boycott is needed because there won’t even be any sale,” added another.”

    “However, when cricket burgers were launched at a Mexican restaurant in Soho, New York, they were apparently a “surprise hit.”

  6. Abraham van Helsing on Thu, 20th Feb 2020 10:42 pm 

    Here is an example of a recent successfull example of a geothermal project in Germany for both spaceheating and electricity:

  7. makati1 on Fri, 21st Feb 2020 1:59 am 

    “The Philippines is one of the world’s top producers of geothermal power, owing to its location along the Ring of Fire zone of Pacific volcanoes.[1] The country commissioned the 12-megawatt Maibarara Geothermal Power Plant-2 on March 9, 2018, in Santo Tomas, Batangas.”

    “As of 2017, the International Renewable Energy Agency estimates the Philippines’ net installed geothermal energy capacity to at 1.9 gigawatts (GW)—out of the global geothermal installed capacity of 12.7 GW—ranking behind the United States (2.5 GW) and ahead of Indonesia (1.5 GW).[10] It also estimates that the country can potentially generate 2.1 GW from geothermal sources by 2025”

  8. Abraham van Helsing on Fri, 21st Feb 2020 6:35 am 

    “However, when cricket burgers were launched at a Mexican restaurant in Soho, New York, they were apparently a “surprise hit.”

    No surprise:

    Note, these are 2010 figures.

    The sooner the US becomes an impotent third world shithole, the better it is for Eurasia.

  9. Davy on Fri, 21st Feb 2020 8:42 am 

    I like worm burgers way better then cricket burgers. There not as crunchy.

  10. Bruno Araujo on Fri, 21st Feb 2020 12:30 pm 

    It is a slow and expensive process. Looking for more info? go here

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