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Cleaning up Geothermal Energy

Advanced drilling and piqued government interest could make geothermal as popular as solar. However, its growth could be harmed by its lesser-discussed drawbacks. Renewable power is necessary for a climate-friendly future, but overcoming geothermal's less glamorous aspects is energy workers' next priority. Explore how this power generation method could clean up its act.
Cleaning up Geothermal Energy

Fracking and Land Use Concerns

Texas recently posed a controversial question to lawmakers and energy workers. Is fracking ethical if its goal is capitalizing on geothermal resources? Eco-conscious values thread through this logic, but oversights remain.

Even if corporations use existing oil field machinery and land to reduce the need for new plants and equipment manufacturing, concerns remain over seismic activity and pollution. Experts leading this project suggest geothermal excavation will cost between 20% and 43% less using fracking tech. The numbers are enticing. However, to keep geothermal power Earth-friendly, policymakers must refrain from being tempted.

Land use debates have circled geothermal adoption for decades. Plants are expansive, with intensive cooling systems and extensive pipe networks stretching miles. If builders do not retrofit defunct power plant infrastructure, habitat destruction and land use conflicts are inevitable.

Extracting water from underground reservoirs compromises structural integrity, leading to land subsidence, or sinking. Constant drilling and construction increase earthquake risks, putting nearby cities in danger.

Air Emissions

Geothermal plants are much healthier for the air than fossil fuels. They produce 97% fewer sulfur compounds that cause acid rain and 99% fewer carbon dioxide. Additionally, closed-loop systems are better at reducing the likelihood of exposing nature to pollutants.

However, geothermal equipment may still release heavy metals into the environment, such as chlorides, nickel and mercury, among others. Open-loop systems expose the air to many more pollutants, including:

  • Carbon dioxide
  • Methane
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Ammonia
  • Boron

Even though the harm is less than fossil fuels, the publicity and impact remain. Experts must find ways to curb these emissions if open-loop systems continue operating. Modern researchers propose integrating direct air carbon dioxide capture (DACC) machinery. DACC tools can be cost-prohibitive, but studies show success in isolating geothermal pollutants.

Advanced tower internals will also enhance pollutant-removal performance. Packing and inner surface area expansions allow peripherals, like scrubbers and strippers, to tackle pollutants more successfully. The tools come into contact with more liquids and gases traveling in the structure, boosting efficacy.

Water Quality Compromises

Geothermal power plants attempt to mitigate water losses and restore aquifers with reinjection. However, stores are still depleted because of steam losses during production. Corporations supplement lost water with outside resources, increasing the chance of contamination. This could exacerbate water scarcity for regions dependent on reservoirs, especially as treatment quality is not consistently accessible or effective worldwide.

Metallic and gaseous pollutants get into the air, eventually seeping into the water. A study of Puna's geothermal systems in Hawaii reveals the adverse side effects. The brine and steam have affected freshwater conditions and the quality of life of plants and fish. Nearby animals are at risk, too.

Discoveries like this are what geothermal experts need to investigate. The region's condition sparked new research and quality initiatives to boost credibility and transparency. Similar projects will follow suit worldwide to purify geothermal's reputation. This is especially critical in vulnerable, Indigenous or disadvantaged regions dependent on minimal reservoir access or water treatment technology.

Refining Geothermal Energy’s Reputation

No energy generator is without problems, even in the renewable sector. Dissolving the relationship with fracking, cleaning up the water and reducing air pollution is critical for viable advancement. Geothermal is entering the mainstream as federal governments provide tax credits and incentives. Experts must rectify shortcomings before enthusiastic expansion makes them too challenging to remedy.

Baterías con premio en la gran feria europea del almacenamiento de energía
El jurado de la feria ees (la gran feria europea de las baterías y los sistemas acumuladores de energía) ya ha seleccionado los productos y soluciones innovadoras que aspiran, como finalistas, al gran premio ees 2021. Independientemente de cuál o cuáles sean las candidaturas ganadoras, la sola inclusión en este exquisito grupo VIP constituye todo un éxito para las empresas. A continuación, los diez finalistas 2021 de los ees Award (ees es una de las cuatro ferias que integran el gran evento anual europeo del sector de la energía, The smarter E).