Disadvantages about Geothermal Energy
There are also some Disadvantages about Geothermal Energy. And we need to adress these, too.
1. Disadvantages about Geothermal Energy for Homes
So, what disadvantages do I see? Firstly, there are many different types of residential Geothermal Energy application:
- for warming your home
- for cooling your home
- for generating electricity.
And for these there are again many different existing technologies for extracting the Geothermal Energy. So each type/technology has its own set of Advantages and Disadvantages.
Make sure you ask your local expert exactly what he suggests you to use and what the specific disadvantages of the suggested type and technologies are.
Generally speaking, these are the disadvantages for Geothermal Energy for home use I see:
- installation is often expensive, with some drilling, heat pump, collector etc.
- depending on the type and technology, the need to install complex additional machinery (like a heat pump)
- you need a special form of heating system, like floor heating or special radiators
- some (“horizontal”/”below the surface”) technologies require digging up and piping a quite large area of your garden
- these “horizontal” technologies actually cool your garden, by extracting warmth. Not sure your roses would like that
- with “vertical” technologies two deep (50-70m) holes in your garden are necessary. You need a mobile driller for that. But using this system was recommended to me by a German Geothermal Energy expert
- for most types you still need some electricity (for example solar?). If you still get this from your utility, your Geothermal Energy System will still have a monthly bill.
Next to these disadvantages concerning Geothermal Energy for homes, there are also some risks with big Geothermal Energy “power stations”. Especially when using older technologies.
2. Disadvantages about Geothermal Energy Power Stations
Geothermal Power stations are build to create huge amounts of energy (electricity/heat) for a lot of consumers at once.
Logically, to produce more energy for more homes, the technology implemented has to be much bigger than needed for powering your home.
And to tap into more power (more geothermal heat), the drilling holes have to be much deeper. Because the deeper you drill, the more heat you find.
So these “power plant” technologies require the engineers to drill many thousand meters in the earth’s crust.
But this has shown to sometimes create side effects.
Just recently a big project called
Drilling rig on the field © Anton Starikov | Dreamstime.com “Deep Heat Mining” in Basel, Switzerland, was aborted because in the first days of production some 10.000 seismic events (small quakes) up to 3.4 on the Richter scale shook the area. This led to the cancellation of this project in 2009.
The technology ie. used in Basel is a so called “Hot-Dry-Rock” (HDR) system, which requires pressurized water to be pumped into the ground.
And though HDR is one of the more advanced technologies for Geothermal Energy generation, it seems not suited for highly populated areas.
So research goes on. One of the even more advanced technologies for Geothermal Energy Plants is using CO2 instead of water. with the first results looking promising.. But only tests will show how applicable this technology really is for highly populated areas.
Other modern systems like the binary cycle power plant need much lower temperatures to create energy and so no need to drill that deeply. By that massively reducing the risk of destabilizing Earth’s crust.
3. In Sum: Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy
Geothermal Energy is one of the great potentials for us to get off the grid and heat and light our homes with Renewable Energies.
And with the coming global cooling, depending on the area you live in, it may make sense to use multiple systems. Like Geothermal Energy for heating and Solar Panels for creating electricity.
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