It is estimated that about two-thirds of all deaths from air pollution are taking place in Asia, with China accounting up to 1.2 million people of premature death from exposure to outdoor air pollution. The impact of air pollution on the welfare of all the inhabitants on the planet can no longer be denied. Alternative sources of energy have to be used in order to reduce the carbon footprint of fossil fuels around the world. The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has released a report highlighting the benefits geothermal energy provides to public health and the environment.
The Air Emissions Comparison and Externality Analysis claims geothermal energy is one of the least polluting and most environmentally friendly forms of energy currently being produced. The report says dry steam and flash geothermal plants only put out trace amount of greenhouse gases (GHG), while found binary geothermal plants produce almost no emissions. The analysis estimates the state of California and Nevada benefit from clean energy in a number of ways totaling around $117 million annually.
Compared to coal-fired plants of equal size dry steam and flash geothermal energy only emit around 5 percent of the carbon dioxide, 1 percent of the sulfur dioxide and lower than 1 percent of the nitrous oxide, and binary geothermal plants produce emissions that are near zero. The health benefit to the surrounding population where the plants are located is invaluable.
"Geothermal energy carries a smaller environmental footprint than other energy sources, such as coal or natural gas. The absence of a fuel cycle reduces the impacts on transportation infrastructure, and geothermal power plants can use recycled waste water to reduce environmental impacts on water resources and treatment costs," said Benjamin Matek, GEA's geothermal industry analyst and author of the updated report.
Besides protecting the population, geothermal plants cause less land degradation, provide a wide range of fuel diversity and reduce foreign energy dependency. The benefit of producing geothermal compared to fossil fuels is worth 3 ½ cents for coal and one cent for natural gas per kWh. Externality benefits geothermal plants provide by avoiding fossil fuel emissions amounts to $88 million a year for California and $29 million to Nevada.
"Energy production and use is a major source of environmental and public health damage, and geothermal energy is a truly remarkable resource because it harnesses the power of the Earth to produce large amounts of power with virtually no impact. Geothermal has tremendous untapped potential to provide energy without adding harmful elements into the environment," said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey