The environmental benefits that you get from geothermal power, which comes from the latent heat present in the Earth, are really the same as you get with all other forms of renewable energy. We’ll be focusing on how geothermal energy is used in ground source heat pumps though, but will also touch on the power plants that use this form of energy as well.
Geothermal Power Stations
This article will mostly focus on the use of ground source heat pumps, but a brief word will be said about power stations that are powered from geothermal power. They are not very common because there aren’t many places that they are efficient enough to be worth it.
Power stations that run on geothermal energy work in almost exactly the same way that conventional power stations work, with a crucial difference of course. They both need turbines to spin to create the electricity though, and this spin is generated from the steam that comes from heated water in both cases. The difference is where the heat comes from. Conventionally it’s from burning things like coal or oil, whereas with a geothermal plant it’s from the heat in the ground of course.
The way that geothermal plants create electricity makes it unsuitable for individual installations, clearly. You’d need to build a whole power plant on your property. If that’s what you want to do though, create electricity from a renewable source, then the best way to do that is through solar energy from solar panels.
Just because geothermal plants are not used very much though, that doesn’t mean that they are not helping the environment. Each unit of energy that we get from renewable sources is helping to reduce the number of fossil fuels that we have to burn. And because of the threat of global warming, we have to reduce the number of fossil fuels we are using as much as possible.
The problem of global warming has come about due to the large amounts of CO2 that we are releasing into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas so the more that we let into the atmosphere the warmer the Earth will become. Actually it’s a bit more complicated than that, but effectively that is the case.
Unfortunately, though we are currently too dependent on fossil fuels to be able to stop using it without an alternative being in place to take over. If we did just go cold turkey then we would have a worldwide economic collapse that there would be no recovering from and many people would die.
In order to prevent both global warming and economic collapse then, the best that we can do is put renewable energy sources in place so that we can quickly make the transition, bit by bit. Of course, it’s not just electricity that we need, the heat that we use to warm our homes also has to come from somewhere. Instead of using gas boilers, or some other form of fossil fuel, we can also use heat pumps.
Ground source heat pumps take the geothermal power from the Earth and use it to heat your homes. Both through a central heating system if you have the appropriate kind, underfloor heating, as well as providing you with hot water.
This does not mean that you will be able to get rid of your boiler altogether though. It might be that you need more heat than is provided by the heat pump, so the boiler may be needed for a bit of extra heating. It’s going to need much less energy though due to the fact that the water will already by warm.
It’s also necessary to put some energy into the system to get a heat pump to work. However, you get out between 3-5 times more heat energy than the electrical energy that you have to put in to get the pumps to work. That is the equivalent of having a boiler that is 300-500% efficient. So this is certainly helping the environment.