Why isn’t geothermal power not popular worldwide?

If you have not heard the term Geothermal Power before, don’t blame yourself. You are in the majority.

Geothermal power refers to power generation using naturally occurring hot springs or geysers.

Well, geothermal power is not as prevalent worldwide as solar or wind power, for a reason.

For geothermal power generation to be feasible, you need regions with special conditions. To run a turbine that generates electricity, you need water to be heated to very high temperatures. For such high temperature heating through natural sources, you need regions that have significant geothermal activities capable of generating such high temperatures.

Specifically, you need regions that have significant geothermal activity – these could be in the form of hot springs, geysers, hot rocks or hot gas underneath the surface of earth. Not all regions in the world have these characteristics.

As a result, only select regions have potential for geothermal power generation, and consequently, geothermal power is not the most popular renewable power source in the world.

The main countries that currently have large geothermal power plants are United States, Philippines, Mexico, Italy and Indonesia. A large part of the present geothermal generation are in countries that lie on the “Ring of Fire,” the geographical locations on the Pacific Rim that have high volcanic and earthquake activities.

Significant generation outside this region are in Italy and Iceland. Iceland is one country that has its majority of power generation and heating from geothermal. Another potential area that is getting prominence for geothermal power is the “African Rift”, the area along the East coast of Africa.

Note: Of late, using a concept called Enhanced Geothermal, engineers are trying to pry open rocks in regions without natural geothermal activity to exploit them for geothermal power generation. I, for one, am not convinced it is the greatest idea. For instance, it has been alleged that enhanced geothermal activities could lead to earthquakes in the vicinity. Prying open rocks underneath the earth might not have happy endings for the folks located in the neighbourhoods.

Why isn’t geothermal power not popular worldwide? - Cleantech Guide

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