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Comparing Solar Energy and Geothermal Energy

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Solar energy and geothermal energy are both renewable sources of power that can be installed for residential use. However, the two technologies differ in their application and requirements to produce energy.

Read the full blog to learn what solar and geothermal energy are, along with the similarities and differences between solar and geothermal to get a better idea about their comparison.

What is geothermal energy?

Geothermal refers to heat within the earth. 

Now how can we use it to generate electricity?

The core of the earth is made of pure heat as magma flows under its surface. By digging deep wells into the earth, hot underground water in the form of steam is obtained which rotates the turbine, thus generating electricity.

Geothermal has the biggest advantage in terms of its independence from both weather and seasonal changes. This means that temperature remains constant deep in the earth. 

What are the applications of geothermal energy?

We can harness its energy in the following ways:

  • In thermal power plants, the earth’s heat turns water into steam which spins a turbine and produces electricity.
  • Through geothermal water heaters, natural hot water is provided to homes without using a water heater.
  • Due to the constant temperature just beneath the earth’s surface, geothermal heating and cooling pump systems are used worldwide to heat and cool homes.

 

What is solar energy?

Solar energy is used frequently in houses to generate electricity through solar panels. Solar panels are installed on the roofs of houses which are used to obtain solar energy and pipe it through a system of small tubes to the heat pump which extracts heat from it and supplies it to the water reservoir.

Do you know you can get current directly from the sunlight?

The panels used for this purpose are known as photovoltaic panels which are found more durable and efficient nowadays through extensive scientific research and new materials used in the manufacture of solar panels.

This new advancement in solar panels helps people living in northern areas who are not exposed to many sunny days, 

What are the applications of solar energy?

The sun’s energy can be harnessed in some of the following ways:

  • Direct light can be used to generate electricity through Photovoltaic, or PV by the use of solar panels.
  • Concentrating solar power (CSP) plants are used to heat water and spine electrical turbines through the sun’s thermal energy.
  • In order to heat water and indoor spaces through the sun’s energy, solar water space heaters are used.

Sun’s energy is absorbed by photovoltaic panels which cause electrons to shake loose from atoms, thus creating an electrical current. This electric current can then be used to power homes and businesses. Moreover, heat energy is also created through CSP plants by using solar energy to generate steam which turns a turbine, thus producing electricity. 

Can solar energy power your heating and cooling system?

It basically came down to ground source heat pump vs solar panels, right?

Although, both solar and geothermal energies are renewable sources of energy that can be used to power your heating and cooling system. However, geothermal heating is not the most suitable option for every property. Considering you live in a city, will you be allowed to dig deep into the ground to support a geothermal system?

You might not as it would disrupt the earth’s surface making it less likely to be used for residential, industrial, or agricultural purposes. Moreover, geothermal systems can’t do anything besides home climate control so high upfront system costs may be prohibitive.

Thus, solar is the most suitable option to power your heating and air conditioning system. This is because by pairing an electric climate control system with a solar energy system, electricity generated from the sun can be used to run your heating and AC.

Comparison between Geothermal and Solar

           Solar panels vs geothermal?

    Solar EnergyGeothermal Energy
Uses solar energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation.Uses heat energy from radioactive decay
Restricted to daytime hours24-7 energy can be produced.
Energy obtained from the sunEnergy obtained from the earth
Installation cost is cheaper compared to geothermal.Installation cost is expensive compared to solar.
Concentrated solar thermal and photovoltaic are used by solar energy.Geothermal power plants & geothermal heat pumps are used for geothermal energy 
It is not restricted to location.It can be installed at only a few locations near tectonic plate boundaries

Conclusion

We need to use both solar and geothermal sources of energy as they are both renewable. This is the only way to win against greenhouse gas emissions and shift towards more abundant and environment-friendly sources of energy as they won’t deplete, unlike non-renewable sources.

All renewable sources, including wind, solar, geothermal, and hydro will contribute to our dream of achieving a cleaner and more affordable path. However, this can only be achieved if we all work together to eliminate the carbon footprints by adopting these renewable sources, thus leaving a cleaner environment for our next generation.

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