Energy Excursions

Environmental Considerations for Geothermal Energy

All energy technologies, from traditional fossil based sources to renewables like solar and wind, have some environmental impact. This lesson explores the environmental considerations and impacts for geothermal energy. Geothermal has one of the lowest lifecycle carbon emissions, smallest land footprint, and low water contamination concerns of all renewable energy technologies. Geothermal operations are also weather and attack resilient, since much of the footprint of geothermal operations are located underground.1Bear, J.C., and Jones, B.A., eds. (2023, May 1). Chapter 10: Environmental Considerations and Impact. The Future of Geothermal in Texas. p. 264.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Explain similarities between technology and engineering used for the oil & gas industry and the budding geothermal industry
  • Discuss how water is used, managed and protected as part of the drilling and hydraulic fracturing process
  • Explain a water use concern associated with using a natural proppant for hydraulic fracturing
  • Summarize how induced seismicity could occur during geothermal activities, and what steps learned from the oil & gas industry can be taken to mitigate this concern
  • Explain how land subsidence could be a problem for geothermal projects, how it might occur, and an example of an early geothermal project where this was a problem
  • Discuss factors taken into consideration when making a decision about using produced water for a geothermal system
  • Describe the difference between an open to reservoir system and a closed to reservoir system
  • Summarize the concern of land footprint for geothermal within the context of solar and wind energy projects
  • Explain what measures are being used to reduce noise pollution for drilling in the oil & gas industry that could be implemented for geothermal projects
Oklahoma Academic Standards
TEKS Standards
College Board Units and Topics
Next Generation Science Standards