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Geothermal Energy – Is it Renewable?

Renewable geothermal energy comes from underground steam and hot water. Wells can be produced to utilize this thermal energy. It can be available in much of the western United States. It is important to recognize, however, that just because an energy source is renewable does not mean it does not have complications for the environment.

Environmental impacts

Producing geothermal wells often requires hydraulic fracturing which involves pumping harsh chemicals underground which can contaminate drinking water. This is why environmental regulations for fracking are very important. Removing fluids from the ground can also have a detrimental impact on the land by causing it to sink. This sinking can affect drainage systems and put strain on nearby roadways and underground pipes. Pollutants such as arsenic, lithium, mercury, and boron find their way to nearby rivers and streams in fracking areas. These contaminants are not safe for human consumption which is the primary concern that results from the use of geothermal energy.

Advantages

Geothermal plants contribute only a very slight amount to global warming. They can be produced without using up our dwindling fossil fuels. Some types of geothermal plants produce essentially no emissions while others produce just one-sixth of the carbon dioxide as a natural-gas plant emits. It is also available night and day, no matter the weather. Despite high start-up costs, renewable geothermal energy can be 80% cheaper than fossil fuels.

Geothermal heat pumps can provide a safe option for businesses or homes. This takes advantage of the ground surface temperature. The temperature about ten feet underground stays within a ten degree range throughout the year. In the winter, air can be pumped inside for heat and in the summer, warm inside air can be pumped underground and used for hot water.

There are definite advantages to using geothermal energy to power our world. For more information about geothermal energy or for assistance with your HVAC system, contact Ross and Witmer. We’ve been serving the area of Charlotte NC and surrounding cities since 1945.