What are the Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy? – Top 6

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Wanna know what are the disadvantages of geothermal energy in daily life? If yes, then you are at the right place at the very right time. Because in this exclusive article, I am gonna share with you the top 6 disadvantages of geothermal power that you not wanna miss.

It’s a well-known fact that nothing is perfect, so does the energy that comes from within the earth. No wonder they’re so many advantages of geothermal energy over non-renewables. But the matter of fact is that we could not ignore the number of disadvantages that come with the use of geothermal power.


Top 6 Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy

There are so many drawbacks of geothermal energy I wanna tell you. Out of all, these are the most important ones that I will be discussing with you today. Let’s dive right in…!!!

  • Not Available Everywhere
  • High Upfront Cost
  • Can Cause Earthquakes and Land Instability
  • Environmental Issues
  • Lowest Efficiency
  • Difficult to Distribute Energy


Not Available Everywhere

One of the biggest disadvantages of geothermal energy is its availability especially for building a geothermal power plant. No wonder we do have so many small hot springs here and there on the surface of the earth.

But to install a geothermal power plant, what we need is a precise location where the average temperature (of steam or water) has to be somewhere between 300° to 700°F. Just to let you know that the average temperature of a normal size hot spring is somewhere between 100° to 120°F.

To sum up, a geothermal power plant cannot be built anywhere like the conventional ones. However, for normal uses such as cooking or bathing, naturally occurring hot springs are almost everywhere.

High Upfront Cost

Even after finding the specific location, installing a complete geothermal system will cost tens of thousands of dollars. In other words, pumping hot water (steam) from the deep inside of the earth will require huge capital investment.

This includes buying heat pumps, steam turbines, generators, cooling towers, hydrogen sulfide abatement systems, paying off drillers, workers, etc. In fact, as per the available data, installing a geothermal power plant is the most expensive one as compared to other renewable energy resources such as wind or solar energy.

However, once installed, these systems normally require less maintenance as compared to the other sources of electricity generation. Of course, from time to time, you may have to call a maintenance guy to check the pressure of the fluid in the piping or some mechanical parts.


Can Cause Earthquakes and Land Instability

The most consequential problem with installing a geothermal power plant is that it can trigger Earthquakes. A typical example of an earthquake due to the process called water injection occurred in Basel, a small town in Switzerland.

Installing a geothermal plant can also adversely affect land stability. To tap into the energy of the earth, the process of drilling has to be done which, sometimes, can result in raising or lowering of land.

A typical example of land instability due to geothermal drilling occurred in Staufen im Breisgau, a small town in Germany. As per the available data, since 2008, the town has been recorded to have risen by some 4.7 inches.


Environmental Issues

Just because a geothermal power plant does not need to burn fossil fuel to produce electricity, they are considered one of the most environmentally friendly sources of energy. However, there are some minor disadvantages of geothermal energy to the environment too.

The process of drilling at the time of installing a geothermal plant can release a significant amount of greenhouse gases which can lead to acid rain, climate change, radiation, etc. Some of the gases include carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, Radon, Sulfur dioxide, and many more.


Lowest Efficiency

One of the biggest setbacks of a geothermal power plant is its Efficiency. The thermal efficiency of a typical geothermal power plant is somewhere between 7 to 10% which is regarded as the lowest among all the renewables, let alone the conventional non-renewable power plants.

As per the available data, most of the conventional solar panel’s efficiency rating is somewhere between 12% to 16%. Similarly, the efficiency of a typical wind power plant is somewhere around 30 to 40%.


Difficult to Distribute Energy

Just because most of the geothermal power plants are strictly location-specific, distributing power to the surrounding neighborhood would further increase the initial installation cost.

I mean you have to install a vast network of distribution systems that will simply make it a more money-consuming affair.


Some other Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy:

Apart from the above-mentioned drawbacks or disadvantages, I am also mentioning some of a few here.

  • Once installed, you can’t relocate it
  • Requires very high temperature
  • Land allotment issues
  • In some cases, geothermal reservoirs may run out of steam, etc.

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I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my career, and therefore I did my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every aspect of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

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