As the need to protect our planet becomes ever more apparent, greater focus is being placed on sources of renewable power such as geothermal energy.
Renewable or ‘green‘ energy is generated from natural resources like the sun, wind and water. It uses technology that ensures the energy stores are naturally replenished, so they never run out – unlike fossil fuels.
One of these sources is geothermal energy, which cleverly harnesses the Earth’s natural heat generation to produce electricity or to heat and cool buildings directly.
What is geothermal energy?
Geothermal is a carbon-free, sustainable form of energy, stored in the form of heat beneath the Earth’s surface. It can be found from shallow ground to several miles below the surface, and even farther down to the magma, the molten rock in the Earth’s crust.
This type of energy has been used to provide heat for as long as people have been around to take advantage of it. In some places the natural groundwater heated by this energy emerges at the surface in steam geysers and hot springs, used for bathing and agriculture.
Various technologies have been developed to take advantage of the heat from the Earth. Geothermal energy is generated in more than 20 countries, including the United States and Iceland.
New geothermal plant in Cornwall
It was recently reported that work had begun at what may become the first deep geothermal power plant in the UK.
The project, near Redruth, in Cornwall, involves two deep holes being drilled into granite where the temperature is up to 200C (390F). Cold water will then be pumped down to the hot rocks and brought up to the surface as heated water.
The steam from the heated water will drive turbines and produce electricity.
Pros and cons
Among the many advantages of geothermal energy is that it can be extracted without burning a fossil fuel such as coal, gas or oil. Plus, geothermal energy is always available, unlike solar and wind power. And because it doesn’t need any fuel, it costs much less to run than a traditional coal or gas power plant.
However, this type of energy isn’t without its disadvantages. After all, there’s no such thing as a perfect power source.
Geothermal power isn’t completely carbon-neutral, and drilling holes deep into the Earth’s crust can have an impact on land stability. Another drawback is that some geothermal plants have to bore through rocks that contain toxic elements.
Take a look at your home utilities
With the increased focus on renewable energy, it’s more important than ever to take a closer look at your home utilities.
Leading energy and broadband provider First Utility aims to make the management of your energy, broadband and home services straightforward, painless and great value for money.
Plus, the company is part of Shell’s New Energies division, playing a part in the transition to a lower carbon future.
**Note: This is a collaborative post.