While there are many perks, there are also many disadvantages about geothermal energy. This energy comes directly from the Earth, therefore geothermal heat sources can sometimes be dangerous. There are other disadvantages about geothermal energy as well.
What Is Geothermal Energy?
Deep within the Earth is a large amount of energy that can be tapped into. This is geothermal energy. In many cases, the source of the energy is magma and the decay of major earthly elements like potassium. In order to access geothermal energy, a hole must be specially dug. A system of pipes is created that allows water to get heated and come back up from the heat source in the Earth through pumps. This process is the basis of geothermal energy.
Disadvantages About Geothermal Energy
While geothermal energy may seem both simple and helpful, there are many flaws and downfalls with the process. These include:
- Inability to Be Moved
- Hazardous Materials and Possible Pollution
- Need For Infrastructure
One of the primary disadvantages of geothermal energy is location. One cannot just build a geothermal plant wherever they have to space to do so. The location must be close to the appropriate amount of geothermal activity. Extracting geothermal energy also requires the usage of a large amount of water. As a result, it is often helpful to plan geothermal sites near bodies of water.
Another downside to geothermal energy production is that a hot spring for geothermal activity can suddenly shut off without any rhyme or reason. There is no way to predict this. In some cases, this shut off can last years, causing disaster to anyone relying upon energy produced by the spot.
Inability To Move
Geothermal energy cannot be moved easily. Unlike oil or electricity, it cannot be transferred long distances. A single location can only power the area directly around it. The science behind geothermal energy still has not been able to move the energy large distances.
Hazardous Materials and Possible Pollution
Along with the heat, there are other chemicals that can come up along with the energy. Among these are many hazardous chemicals such as mercury, hydrogen sulfide, and ammonia. It can be rather difficult to dispose of these chemicals safely and they can pollute the air if released into it. Newer plants are now injecting these chemicals directly back into their geothermal source.
In order to run a geothermal energy plant, there is the need for many pieces of advanced infrastructure. This equipment if often expensive and cutting edge. As a result, starting a plant can be an expensive endeavor.
Geothermal technology can be expensive. While the cost of infrastructure has already been stated, there is also the cost of the initial drilling process, which can be rather expensive. Even prior to that is the cost of surveying for the proper area to build such a plant.
Many people speculate that there is the possibility that extracting geothermal energy can cause earthquakes. According to the most recent science, there is not much truth in this claim. However, it is true that it is common to have tectonic activity (which causes earthquakes) in close proximity to many geothermal sources. As a result, another disadvantage if geothermal energy is the possibility of natural earthquakes damaging the system for a period of time due to their direct proximity to tectonic plate activity. There is also the risk that an earthquake can significantly harm the area around a plant. Since geothermal plants are bound to their local communities, this can also affect the plant even if it itself is not damaged.
To many, geothermal energy seems a great idea on the surface. The ability to extract energy from the Earth itself sounds safe. However, there are numerous dangers that can be created by the process. There are also financial and locational problems for a potential investor to worry about. One should think long and hard about the pros and cons of a geothermal plant prior to starting to build one.