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Ways to address the diff environmental concerns related to the use of geothermal energy
Transcript of Ways to address the diff environmental concerns related to the use of geothermal energy
Geothermal energy is a renewable resource, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is the heat of the Earth. Medium and/or high temperature geothermal systems are classified either as hydrothermal systems, which are encountered in specific locations associated with the presence of fluids and permeability within the earth, or as enhanced geothermal systems, which can be engineered everywhere.
Water Quality and Use
Geothermal water (GW) is a hot, often salty, mineral-rich liquid withdrawn
from a deep underground reservoir. The steam that is "flashed" from the hot
water is used to turn turbines and generate electricity. The remaining water,
along with the condensed steam, is then injected back into the geothermal
reservoir to be reheated. In water cooled systems, 50% or more of the liquid
is lost to the atmosphere in the form of steam, and the remainder is injected
back into the system.
Geothermal power plants can operate in compliance with the applicable regulations and are not considered a noise nuisance in surrounding residential communities. All power facilities must meet local noise ordinances according to the phase of construction and operation.
During the construction phase, noise may be generated from construction of the well pads, transmission towers, and power plant. During the operation phase, the majority of noise is generated from the cooling tower, the transformer, and the turbine-generator building.
Construction is one of the noisiest phases of geothermal development, but even construction noise generally remains below the 65 dBA.
Total noncondensable gas emissions from geothermal resources
typically make up less than 5% of the total steam emitted, whereas air
emissions from facilities such as coal contain much higher percentages
of emissions. Geothermal air emissions are significantly lower than
those of an power plant. For example, the geothermal sulfur dioxide
equivalent, derived from hydrogen sulfide emissions, is one of the
most significant pollutants emitted from geothermal power plants.
Even so, sulfur dioxide emitted by geothermal facilities, at 0.16
kg/MWh, represents only a fraction of the 2.74 kg/MWh of sulfur
dioxide generated by the average power plant.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES CONCERNING THE USE OF GEOTHERMAL ENERGY?
GPP impose minimal visual impacts on their surroundings when compared to typical fossil-fuel
plants. Some of the key visual quality effects related to geothermal development are the
presence of steam plumes, night lighting on the wellfield and power plant, and visibility of the
transmission line. Fossil fired power plants have all of these visual effects as well.
Subsidence: most commonly thought of as the slow, downward sinking of the land surface. subsidence can damage
facilities such as roads, buildings and irrigation systems, or even cause tracts
of land to become submerged by nearby bodies of water. also occur as a result of the extraction of
subsurface fluids, including groundwater, hydrocarbons, and geothermal
Induced Seismicity: or Earthquake activity. Although it typically
occurs naturally, seismicity has at times been induced by human activity, including
the development of geothermal fields, through both production and injection
operations. In these cases, the resulting seismicity has been low-magnitude events
known as “microearthquakes”.
Impact on Wildlife and Vegetation
Before geothermal construction can begin, an environmental review may be required to categorize potential effects upon plants and animals. Power plants are designed to minimize the potential effect upon wildlife and vegetation, and they are constructed in accordance with the regulations of the host state that protect areas set for development.
HOW CAN WE ADDRESS TO THESE DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS RELATED TO THE USE OF GEOTHERMAL ENERGY?
Land slides: The extent to which geothermal development induces landslides is unclear,
as landslides, which occur naturally in certain areas of geothermal activity
such as volcanic zones, are produced by a combination of events or
circumstances rather than by any single specific action.