Geothermal energy advantages and disadvantages in 2019
Geothermal energy is becoming a popular resource all over the world. We use it in heating homes via heat pumps. We use it in industry. Parts of the world even have geothermal power plants. It’s one of the best renewable sources of energy. It doesn’t harm our environment as no greenhouse gasses will be produced. And we have it in abundance. Most areas in the UK and all over the world can benefit. One of the countries that utilises geothermal energy more than anyone else is Iceland. Iceland’s geothermal power is heating and providing hot water to 87% of its buildings. More projects using geothermal power are planned for the UK. In Cornwall there are plans to open a geothermal power plant. It is hoped that in the future geothermal energy can provide 20% of the UK’s energy supply.
Geothermal energy is harvested by drilling into the earth’s surface and down to the core. The heat is passed through a cycle of evaporation, compression, condensation and expansion. It can then be used within the building to heat or cool it.
There are Geothermal energy advantages and disadvantages, let’s look at both:
Geothermal is renewable and sustainable:
Geothermal energy is heat produced by the earth’s core. This heat is unlimited and can be used over and over and any used is a much smaller amount than that of the earth’s heat content. The resources in geothermal reservoirs are naturally restored making it a renewable source.
Geothermal heat systems are highly efficient. Most systems have a COP of 3-4.5 meaning that for every unit of energy used to power the system it supplies 3-4.5 units of heat. They are calculated as being 400% efficient. Being so efficient can save you up to 50% on household bills.
Lowering your carbon footprint:
If you’re thinking about a heat pump the chances are, you’re looking for a greener way to heat your home. Heat pumps don’t need to burn anything to create heat therefore there are no carbon emissions. The heat pump does require a small amount of electricity, however. Heat pumps are considered environmentally friendly. The refrigerant used is also not harmful to the environment. Another way to reduce your carbon footprint would be to generate your own electricity, this could be with solar or wind.
They improve air quality:
Your heat pump produces clean air, nothing is burned, and filters remove all harmful things such as mould and dust. Good news for asthma or allergy sufferers.
Heat pumps don’t require a lot of maintenance. They are extremely reliable. There are very few moving parts in the system meaning the pump can have a lifespan of 20 years and the pipes potentially longer, up to 50 years with warranty.
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Disadvantages of geothermal energy
This may be confusing, as it has been described as eco-friendly and renewable. There are some greenhouse gasses trapped beneath the earth. Sometimes extracting geothermal energy can release some of these greenhouse gases. The earth needs to be drilled into to reach the earth’s heat. This release, however, is a much smaller amount than man made greenhouse gasses from fossil fuels. Geothermal is still an eco-friendlier option.
High initial costs:
To install a geothermal pump in a domestic setting can be expensive. This is due partly to work that is involved with drilling and laying pipes. Return on investment can, however, be good. You could make your money back using the RHI scheme and reducing bills in 2 to 10 years. The cost ranges from £10,000 to £18,000 for ground source pumps.
Your property will need a fair amount of space for most systems. These systems require pipes to be laid underground in ditches. There is the option on vertical ground source heat pumps if you have less space.
Overall geothermal energy is going to save you money. You do need to consider for what purpose you plan on using it and whether your property is suitable. There are many kinds of systems and some are more suited to things such as underfloor heating. However, without good insulation this kind of heating will not be cost effective. Having taken all factors into account, geothermal heat pumps are a great way to introduce a green way of heating into your home. They are considered eco-friendly and will significantly reduce your carbon emissions. The initial costs are high which is unavoidable, but with the RHI and your savings on bills, we think geothermal heat pumps are a great return on investment. One of the advantages to ground source heat pumps is no planning permission will be required. Once installed, the pipes are no longer visible. It is always best to check with your local authority before starting an installation.
BestHeating Content Manager Jess Steele says “another great advantage of installing an eco-friendly heat pump is that they can easily operate with both modern designer and traditional column radiators. Whether you are considering a ground source or air source heat pump, there are no technical requirements for them to operate effectively in your home as long as your existing radiators are able to provide enough heat.”
“Although there are no specific requirements restricting the use of radiators with heat pumps, there are some concerns regarding the maximum output temperature that is achievable. For this reason, it is advisable to contact a heating engineer to determine whether your existing radiators will heat your home to a comfortable temperature with a heat pump. In some cases, additional heat sources such as heated towel rails or underfloor heating may be required to adequately heat certain rooms.”