This article looks into geothermal energy as a climate change solution. It is a continuation of the series on Project Drawdown, where I am exploring the top 20 most effective solutions for reversing global warming.
I had to admit I was surprised when I read Drawdown and saw that geothermal energy came in at number 18. I had no doubt of the potential for geothermal energy. But I doubted that its location matched up with large population centres to make it a scalable climate change solution.
The authors explain that: “geothermal energy is earth energy and depends on heat, an underground reservoir, and water or steam to carry that heat up to the earth’s surface.”
The authors go on to explain that: “Although prime geothermal conditions are found on less than 10 percent of the planet, new technologies dramatically expand production potential in areas where useful resources were previously unknown.”
Let’s look at the headline numbers which allowed geothermal to make it into the top 20. Project Drawdown revealed that geothermal energy could reduce CO2 by 16.6 gigatons, for a -$155.5 billion net cost and create net savings of $1.02 trillion. These are certainly big numbers.
The authors point towards new techniques that could help expand geothermal energy: “one of these new approaches is enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), which typically targets deep underground cavities and creates hydrothermal pools where they do not currently exist.”
They explain that innovations like this: “could dramatically increase the geographic reach of geothermal energy and, in certain locales, help address a critical challenge for renewables: providing baseload or readily dispatchable power.”
The authors provide the interesting statistic that for geothermal energy: “its emissions per megawatt hour are just 5 to 10 percent of a coal plant.” This is certainly the kind of effective solution needed to address climate change.
The authors reveal that: “according to the Geothermal Energy Association, 39 countries could supply 100 per cent of their electricity needs from geothermal energy, yet only 6 to 7 per cent of the world’s potential geothermal power has been tapped.” Action needs to be taken to close this gap.
What you need to know
This article looked into geothermal energy as a climate change solution. The researchers behind Project Drawdown revealed this to be the 18th most effective solution to reverse climate change.
The current projects seem very interesting and with breakthrough technologies potentially just around the corner, this is an energy source that will only grow in importance.
Thank you for reading,
By Barnaby Nash
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