Geothermal energy is a key contender for future electricity production in various countries across the globe. This however, doesn’t mean that geothermal energy comes without its disadvantages, many of which are explained below.
- Availability – The availability of geothermal energy that is capable of feeding geothermal power stations is limited. This intense energy source is often only available in countries where geothermal activity is at its peak, mainly tectonic/volcanic regions such as Iceland.
- Significant Investment Required – A significant investment is often required prior to building a geothermal power station. Geological surveys have to be undertaken to ensure the location is suitable for geothermal electricity production before any potential installation work can go ahead. It’s often costly to transport any required materials to remote locations where there is sufficient geothermal activity.
- Harmful Gas Potential – Geothermal power stations have the potential to release harmful gases into the air. Toxic gases exist deep beneath the ground in various regions and can sometimes be released via the infrastructure used by geothermal power stations. Most modern geothermal power plants have systems and procedures in places to deal with these harmful gases.
- Localised Supply – As geothermal is trapped beneath our feet, we cannot extract, store and transport this energy source to other countries as we do with fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas. Geothermal energy has to be used at source to generate electricity, thus providing a supply of electricity for the electrical grid system of only the source country.
- The Steam Can Stop – Geothermal power stations have the potential to cool the rocks beneath them buried deep under the ground. If the rocks are cooled via too much water flowing into the well, they will no longer be able to produce the steam required to turn a generator, thus rendering a site useless and resulting in significant losses for any company making use of geothermal energy at that location.
- Visual Pollution – Geothermal power stations, as with many other power station designs can be unsightly and provide visual pollution. Networks of pipe systems have to be utilised for production purposes and many people are opposed to the sight of these.
Above are many of the key disadvantages of geothermal energy. Although these may seem significant, there are many advantages that are able to counteract them.