Geothermal power plants emit only a tiny fraction (1/6000) of
“greenhouse gases” compared with conventional power plants.
This plant in New Zealand is a similar size to the first plant to be
installed by Geothermal Electric Limited once suitable flows of hot water at Savu Savu have been reached.
Greenhouse gases: They emit very small amounts of “greenhouse gases”: about 0.14 kg of
carbon per megawatt hour while diesel plants emit about 6000 times more -- about 880 kg. This huge difference is highly significant: power plants
in the United States of America, for example, release more than 40% of that country’s total emissions of carbon dioxide,
the main global warming pollutant. [Source of data: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse
Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2005, April 2007. Based on calculation of CO2
emissions from tables 3-1 and 3-3.]
Other emissions are very low, or zero: Geothermal plants typically emit only about 0.20
kg of sulphur per megawatt hour while diesel plants emit about 100 times more -- about 23 kg (but see note below).
Nitrogen, which is a significant pollutant emitted by diesel plants, is virtually nil from geothermal plants. [Source of
data: South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission Miscellaneous Report MR463, June 2002.] These emissions are
particularly significant because sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides form “acid rain”.
[Note: Geothermal power plants in Fiji are expected to emit much less sulphur than the 0.20 kg quoted
above, because on present indications it appears likely that sulphur dioxide gas will be zero, or close to it.]
Industrial development will produce very low emissions: Fiji’s present continuous
generating capacity is similar to that of a 112 MWe geothermal power plant in the United States of America owned by
A conventional power station of that capacity produces -- each year -- 630,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases and toxic
emissions [Source of data: http://www.ormat.com/fileserver/php?file=4&cmd=download]. Taking into account that about half of Fiji’s power production is
from emission-free hydro, if geothermal replaced the present diesel power generation about 300,000 tonnes of greenhouse
gases and toxic emissions less would be produced than is produced today.
More significantly, if geothermal powers new mines, metal refining plants and other industries for
Fiji, the greatly increased electricity production will be achieved with only one six-thousandth (1/6000) of the increase
in emissions that would occur with a conventional power station.
No transport-related hazards or emissions: Environmental hazards of accidental fuel oil
spills and the environmental side-effects of oil transportation (200,000 tonnes per year in the above example) are