Showdown: Solar Power vs. Geothermal Energy

showdown solar power vs geothermal energy

If you ask most people what “green” energy options they have come across or would like to install in the future, most will likely list solar power right off the bat, and for a good reason. Solar has become highly popular, and some people even think it is the only green energy option. However, there are other options when you consider green energy. One such option is Geothermal energy. It is also capable of providing energy savings and reducing footprint. So which one is the best?

Basics First

Before we dive into the comparison, let’s first get a basic understanding of the two types of energy. As its name implies, solar energy comes from the sun, while geothermal energy originates from the earth. Both these forms of energy are considered green energy because they use existing heat sources to warm or cool homes.

Solar energy is generated using inverters and collector panels that harness energy from the sun, whereas with geothermal energy, the ground will be drilled to access heat from the earth. Some people will start getting worried at this point. Drilling into the earth doesn’t sound safe and cheap at all, and it’s not. That is one major drawback of geothermal energy.


At the plant level, the construction of geothermal structures can cause surface instability and even lead to earthquakes. The construction processes involve drilling into hot rocks that contain trapped water or steam. When these rocks are drilled, the trapped water and steam escape, resulting in an instant drop in pressure that can cause earthquakes. This sounds very complex and dangerous, and it is.

With solar, there are no such risks. Whether the panels are being installed directly on your home or you are getting solar power from the grid, there is certainly no risk of solar-related earthquakes. The construction of solar farms does not lead to any surface instabilities.

Initial capital costs

Compared to solar, the cost of drilling wells used in geothermal energy generation is prohibitive. Add the costs of heating and cooling systems, and the prices even go higher. There is some return on investment, but that doesn’t happen as fast as most people might want.


Solar is way safer than geothermal energy on so many levels. We have already mentioned that geothermal energy generation might result in surface instability and earthquakes, but that’s not all. There are many different gases underneath the earth’s surface, and there is a significant amount of greenhouse gases. The drilling and harnessing of heat during geothermal energy generation can lead to the release of gases that pollute the air.

On the other hand, solar energy generation is a relatively safe process that poses an almost nonexistent risk to people’s safety.

Location Matters

Almost every home in the world can benefit from solar, except homes located where there is no sunlight at all. That is not the case with geothermal energy. It’s challenging to find proper geothermal reservoirs. As a result, the most suitable sites for geothermal energy production occur far away from people’s homes. All you need to do with solar is install collector panels and investors and start generating power.

Reliance on Other Power Sources

Geothermal heat pumps require electricity to function. This means that even if the energy itself is a cheap alternative, you will still need some electricity to operate, and that’s both an additional cost and a limitation.

On the other hand, solar will work flawlessly without electricity. All the components that are required to generate solar energy do not rely on any other power source besides the sun.

Summing Up

While solar has its shortcomings, like how it won’t function without enough sunlight, geothermal energy seems to have a lot of problems. There are sustainability issues, toxic gases involved, and even the risk of earthquakes. In this battle, solar appears to be the clear winner.


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