As their name implies, geothermal power plant stations use geothermal energy — that is, the heat that comes from the earth. These stations obtain the earth’s heat by drilling steam wells or water wells, and they use this energy to heat water or any other type of fluid. This, in turn, is used to turn generator turbines, producing energy that is then distributed to consumers. The fluid is then cooled using a condenser and returned to the earth.
Geothermal power plant stations bring about several benefits, but they also have their own drawbacks. Check out the lists below to learn about their advantages and disadvantages.
List of Advantages of Geothermal Power Plant Stations
1. They are relatively environment-friendly
Unlike coal-powered plants, geothermal power plant stations use a renewable heat source that has a steady supply. In fact, the amount of heat they extract is only a small portion of the amount of present in the earth’s core. Studies have also shown that the industry has tapped only 6.5 percent of the overall global potential, meaning there’s enough energy to power the world for many more years to come. On top of that, the amount of greenhouse gas produced by geothermal power plant stations are only five percent of what coal-powered plants emit, meaning the former are much better for the environment than the latter.
2. They produce large amounts of energy.
One of the biggest advantages of these geothermal power plant stations is that they have a large power capacity. This means that they can greatly help in meeting energy demand, which is rising every year both in first-world countries and developing nations.
3. They result to stable prices.
Conventional power plants are dependent on fuel, so the cost of the electricity they produce fluctuate according to the market price of fuel. This isn’t the case with geothermal power plant stations; since they don’t use fuel, they don’t have to rely on fuel prices and they can offer their consumers stable electricity costs.
List of Disadvantages of Geothermal Power Plant Stations
1. They can’t be built just anywhere.
Although the earth’s heat is found almost everywhere, prime locations (i.e. those have all the components needed to support geothermal power plant stations) are only found in selected areas. These areas are usually far away from urban and industrial communities, which are the places that have the highest need for electricity. Because of this, certain infrastructure would have to be built before the electricity that the plants produce could reach the consumers.
2. They can be expensive to build.
Geothermal power plant stations require specially designed heating and cooling systems and other equipment that can withstand high temperatures. As mentioned above, they’re also usually located in isolated areas, and enough money is needed to build the appropriate infrastructure that would deliver electricity from these far-flung areas to populated communities.
3. They can cause environmental damage.
Although geothermal power plant stations are more environmentally friendly than other energy stations, they can still cause some damage. One of these is their high consumption of freshwater, which is heated to power generator turbines and can make potable water more scarce for people. The fluids that are drawn from the earth through the drilling process contain high amounts of toxic chemicals (including arsenic and mercury) as well as greenhouse gases (like methane and radon). If these are improperly disposed or handled, they can escape into the atmosphere or seep into the water table and wreak havoc on the environment and on people’s health.
Geothermal power plant stations are already existing in many countries around the world. Still, it’s worth considering the advantages and disadvantages above to ensure we reap the benefits of these stations while minimizing their drawbacks.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.