The environmental effects of geothermal energy depend on how geothermal energy is used or how it is converted to useful energy. Direct use applications and geothermal heat pumps have almost no negative effects on the environment. In fact, they can have a positive effect by reducing the use of energy sources that have more or greater negative effects on the environment.

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Grand Prismatic Sprinag, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Source: Stock photography (copyrighted)

Geothermal power plants have low emission levels

Geothermal power plants do not burn fuel to generate electricity, so the levels of air pollutants they emit are low. Geothermal power plants emit 97% less acid rain-causing sulfur compounds and about 99% less carbon dioxide than fossil fuel power plants of similar size. Geothermal power plants use scrubbers to remove the hydrogen sulfide naturally found in geothermal reservoirs. Most geothermal power plants inject the geothermal steam and water that they use back into the earth. This recycling helps to renew the geothermal resource.

Many geothermal features are national treasures

Geothermal features in national parks, such as geysers and fumaroles in Yellowstone National Park, are protected by law.