As the interest in alternate fuels such as geothermal energy increases, it is important to also consider the disadvantages of geothermal energy. Geothermal energy uses the heat stored in the earth to generate electricity. This heat is trapped in the earth’s core and can be accessed by drilling into the earth’s crust. There are several locations where a source of energy is located closer to the earth’s surface, making it possible to generate heat by harnessing the steam that is already escaping.
There are three major disadvantages of geothermal energy: renewability, infrastructure requirement, and location. These factors are central to the worldwide usage of geothermal energy. This type of energy creates no waste product and operates at almost no cost once the original plant investment is completed.
The drain on the earth's resources is one of the largest disadvantages of geothermal energy. Once the heat source starts to cool down, there is no way to reverse it. Although these types of energy plants can provide stable energy for an extended period of time, there is a definite end date. In order to replace that energy source, a new location would need to be identified and a new plant built.
The equipment, staff, infrastructure, and training required to create a geothermal energy plant is a significant investment of both cash and equipment. Once the energy is harnessed from the ground, it needs to be converted into electricity and transported to electricity transmission stations. An entire network of electricity towers, stations, and switches are required to move the power from the geothermal plant site to the consumer.
Skilled staff need to be recruited and relocated to the plant location. The ideal location for a geothermal energy station is quite remote, which adds to the cost of the project. Resources and facilities to house and support a large staff are required. Many firms offer additional bonuses to encourage staff to relocate to these remote locations.
A great deal of investigation has been done into the environmental impact of a geothermal energy plant and the disadvantages of geothermal energy. The energy and heat that is generated in the earth’s core creates lava and pushes up against the earth’s crust. This process creates land mass and strengthens the earth's crust. Accessing the earth’s energy and using it as a power source may affect land stability and the tectonic plates that form the underlying structure of the earth’s surface.
Further exploration of the risks and benefits of geothermal energy are required before it can be utilized as a reliable source of energy around the world. As other energy sources are depleted, this type of energy will receive more attention. Work is ongoing to reduce the total costs associated with the type of energy.