Video: Understanding the Advantages of Geothermal Power

Which of the following statements correctly describes the advantages of geothermal power? [A] Geothermal power is a renewable energy source. [B] Geothermal power stations are very cheap to build. [C] Geothermal power stations can be built anywhere. [D] Geothermal power stations produce very few pollutants that are damaging to the environment. [E] Geothermal power stations produce alternating current; therefore, they are easy to connect up to the electricity grid.

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Video Transcript

Which of the following statements correctly describes the advantages of geothermal power.

Now we can go through statements a to e one by one and see which ones do actually describe advantages of geothermal power. So statement a, geothermal power is a renewable energy source. Well, first of all, is this true? And the answer to that question is yes. Geothermal power is indeed a renewable energy source, because the whole point of geothermal power is to harness the heat in the rocks beneath the Earth, which is caused by the decay of, for example, uranium, within the Earth. And this most certainly is a renewable source of energy. So this statement is true.

But is it an advantage of geothermal power? Well, yes, it is. In a day and age where fossil fuels are quickly being used up, sources of energy which are renewable are very much an advantage, because this way we’re not using up some sort of fuel. And hence we could continue to use this form of energy for a very long time. So we’ve seen statement a is an advantage of geothermal power.

So let’s move on to statement b. Geothermal power stations are very cheap to build. Once again, we ask the question, is this true? And this time the answer is no. It is not true. Therefore, this cannot be an advantage. Now the reason this is not true is because geothermal power stations produce very little energy for the amount of money they cost to build. For example, a rough estimate of how much it cost to build a geothermal power station is about seven to eight million dollars for a power station that can only produce about one megawatt. So geothermal power stations overall are really expensive compared to how much energy they produce. And so this statement is actually not true. Hence, it’s not an advantage of geothermal power.

Moving on to statement c then, geothermal power stations can be built anywhere. Once again, is this statement true? And once again, the answer is no. This statement is not true. Geothermal power stations can only be built in volcanic areas or areas where it’s easy to access the heat from the rocks underneath the Earth. For this reason, there also needs to be a large concentration of radioactive materials, which are the source of the heat for the rocks in the first place. So this statement is not true because geothermal power stations cannot be built anywhere.

So moving on to statement d, geothermal power stations produce very few pollutants that are damaging to the environment. Now quite often in the media, geothermal power stations have been portrayed as producing a lot of sulfur dioxide and silica. These two are indeed pollutants and are indeed being produced by geothermal power stations. But in reality, only very small quantities of these pollutants are produced. And if we compare the pollution levels of geothermal power stations to those of fossil-fuel-powered power stations, the geothermal power stations’ pollution levels are much, much lower. Therefore, statement d is true. They produce very few pollutants. And it’s also an advantage of geothermal power stations, because this way, we’re producing power and not polluting the Earth at the same time. So yes, statement d is true and it’s an advantage.

Finally, statement e then, geothermal power stations produce alternating current. Therefore, they are easy to connect up to the electricity grid. Once again, we ask the question, is this statement true? And yes, this statement is true, because like most of the power stations, geothermal power stations use a power source to heat up water and turn it into steam. The steam then turns turbines, and the turbines are connected to a generator. These generators produce alternating current.

Now what differs between different types of power station is simply the fuel source. For example, in fossil-fuel-powered power stations, we use something like coal. And we burn the coal in order to heat the water to create steam. In a geothermal power station, however, we pump water down into the hot rocks beneath the Earth. And the hot rocks heat up the water. But the main point is that the water which turns to steam turns turbines. And the turbines are connected to generators. And these generators produce alternating current. Therefore, geothermal power stations do produce alternating current. Now the electricity grid is an alternating current grid. Therefore, it really is easy to connect geothermal power stations up to the electricity grid. And hence statement e also is an advantage of geothermal power stations.

Now at this point, we’ve gone through all the statements and we found our answers. Advantages of geothermal power include the fact that geothermal power is a renewable energy source. Geothermal power stations produce very few pollutants that are damaging to the environment. And the geothermal power stations produce alternating current. Therefore, they are easy to connect up to the electricity grid.

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