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Geothermal Issues


Kenya is currently the largest geothermal energy producer in Africa, with its power production contributing to over 40% of the country’s electricity generation. … Burundi, Zambia and Uganda are also currently operating small-scale geothermal plants. Geothermal exploration can be expensive and risky.

The rise of alternative energy in Africa: Geothermal power …

The estimated potential for geothermal energy in India is about 10000 MW. There are seven geothermal provinces in India : the Himalayas, Sohana, West coast, Cambay, Son-Narmada-Tapi (SONATA), Godavari, and Mahanadi.

India Energy Portal

China geothermal energy

Featured snippet from the web

China has abundant geothermal resources with the thermal value of 3.06 × 1018 kWh per year, accounting for about 8% of the global geothermal energy reserves. 9, 29 However, low‐temperature geothermal resources prevail over high‐temperature ones.May 29, 2019

Geothermal power generation in China: Status and prospects …

Mqondisi Gumede

January 11, 2016

Former Joint MD: Strategy and Business Development at Fogg

How cost effective is geothermal compared to solar or wind?

It is highly dependant on your location and how conducive each of the natural conditions are for the each type of generation.

For comparison’s sake we can look at the US that generates the most amount of geothermal power and also generates power via wind and solar as it has the most comparably conducive locations for each type of power generation asked about.

“The following data is from the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook released in 2015 (AEO2015). They are in dollars per megawatt-hour (2013 USD/MWh). These figures are estimates for plants going into service in 2020.[51] The LCOE below is calculated based off a 30-year recovery period using a real after tax weighted average cost of capital (WACC) of 6.1%. For carbon intensive technologies 3 percentage points are added to the WACC. (This is approximately equivalent fee of $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide CO2)”

Projected LCOE in the U.S. by 2025 (as of 2020) $/MWh

Plant TypeMinSimple AverageCapacity
Ultra-supercritical coal65.1076.44NB91.27
Combined cycle33.3538.0736.6145.31
Combustion Turbine58.4866.6268.7181.37
Advanced Nuclear71.9081.65NB92.04
Wind, onshore28.7239.9534.1062.72
Wind, offshore102.68122.25115.04155.55
Solar photovoltaic (PV)29.7535.7432.8048.09

The electricity sources which had the most decrease in estimated costs over the period 2010 to 2019 were solar photovoltaic (down 88%), onshore wind (down 71%) and advanced natural gas combined cycle (down 49%).

 (Information source: Cost of electricity by source )

From the table above you can see that Solar Thermal is at 174.4 USD/MWh, Onshore Wind at 65.6 USD/MWh and Geothermal 43.8 USD/MWh.

This is the best case wind and solar comparison to geothermal, the cost efficiency of geothermal may rise if you were to blend or average the types of Wind (onshore and offshore) and types of Solar (PV and Thermal).

In short atleast, 33.23% more cost effective in comparison to onshore wind and 55.21% compared to Solar PV or more depending on what you have to compare.


Bruce Ewing

September 26

Is geothermal energy the cleanest energy on Earth?

Almost certainly yes. To calculate “cleanliness”, you must fully calculate and account for the entire energy budget of creatinginstalling, using, and the final decommissioning a particular piece of technology. If you do that accounting for solar or wind power, for example, they come out very poorly. But geothermal is different.

Solar requires a tremendous amount of initial input energy, and the final decommissioning ends up with a nearly 100% of the stuff in a landfill after a decade or two.

Wind turbines are made out of steel (primarily) which is made by burning an enormous amount of coal. The installation of wind turbines requires a lot of transmission towers (which are also made of steel, ditto) — because wind blows in the boonies, not the cities. The portion of a wind turbine that is not steel also ends up in a landfill after a decade and a half or so.

But geothermal plants are mostly just buildings and pipes, and they can easily last for a century or more.


Vincent Maldia

Updated November 27

I’m a surgeon

What is stopping us from drilling to use heat from underground magma as a sustainable energy source?

Only in a few places in the world is the magma naturally found at a shallower depth (a magma reservoir and/or magma chamber) , a depth that can be reached by drilling. The deepest borehole is like over 12 km, and magma is on average up to 30 km.

And only some of those places are both near a population that needs electricity and isnt too dangerous or unstable to make a geothermal plant.

Onsen (温泉) is the Japanese name for a hot spring; the term also extends to cover the bathing facilities and traditional inns frequently situated around a hot spring. As a volcanically active country, Japan has thousands of onsens scattered throughout all of its major islands.[1]

Onsen – Wikipedia

In other places like Japan, a lot of places are considered by the public too pretty or useful to spoil with a geothermal plant

Same thing for Yellowstone, its a park


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Orlando Barrios

June 14, 2017

I actually work on that.

Why don’t we tap volcanoes for geothermal energy when we know the heat source is relatively close to the surface?

::Why don’t we tap volcanoes for geothermal energy when we know the heat source is relatively close to the surface?::

Because heat is not enough.

What you need to develop geothermal energy is, first, a heat source. And yes, volcanoes can work as such, but it’s not enough.

You also need a reservoir filled with a fluid: the heat source, like a magmatic intrusion associated to a volcano, heat up the reservoir, an amorphous volumen of fractured rock, with a fluid, either water-dominated or steam-dominated, under a layer of impermeable rock that serves as a ‘seal’ to keep the fluid inside the reservoir.

From the International Geothermal Association.

Since not every place near a volcano meets these conditions, we cannot just drill a volcano’s slope and extract heat.

Now, since the 1970s there have been efforts to create artificial reservoirs, by fracturing layers of hot rocks and then fill the fractures with water: this would open a lot of places for geothermal exploration, either associated to magmatic intrusions or not.

This is called Enhanced Geothermal Systems, and despite very promising advances, it’s still in the future.


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Geothermal Energy

Rui Silva

April 24, 2020

How much more dangerous is harnessing geothermal energy for power compared to nuclear energy? Which is more costly?

How much more dangerous is harnessing geothermal energy for power compared to nuclear energy? Which is more costly?

It isn’t more dangerous. It’s simply much more expensive and less practical than nuclear power.

Geothermal energy can only be applied in areas of the planet where the planet crust is thinner. And thus digging isn’t as deep and actually possible.

That obviously presents a problem seeing there’s only so many places on the planet you can build a geothermal power plant.

While a nuclear power plant can be built pretty much anywhere.

Here’s how a geothermal power plant works…

So the geological structure has to already be in play in order for the power plant to be built, in order to take advantage of that.

Obviously you may be thinking… Why not simply dig/drill anywhere.

Well… It isn’t as simple as that. Drilling into the Earth crust isn’t as simple as simply drilling. Even if you had diamond drills heads, you would break through too many of them before you got down to optimal depth. Meaning that drilling is simply not an option in most places on the planet.

At least with current technology it’s not financially viable.

Also there are not enough studies done on the long term effects, that such drilling may cause on the planet crust.

Last thing we want is to be artificially creating volcanoes. Isn’t it?


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