John, it’s even worse than you think. The prospect for “hot rock” geothermal isn’t very good because, in many locations, the drilling activity causes seismic problems. One early pilot geothermal project in Switzerland recently caused an earthquake and had to be shut down. People who worked on this and other projects (a friend of mine was involved in the Switzerland project) are very pessimistic about the whole idea. At best, geothermal will only provide a tiny fraction of our energy needs, at a very high cost. Drilling those deep wells is hugely expensive.
Now the irony here is that enviros, who are raising red flags about the risks of “fracking” (hydraulic fracturing) to extract natural gas from shale and coal beds, haven’t uttered a peep about the seismic risk of geothermal drilling. Funny how selective the green risk aversion is. In any other area, Gore would be leading the charge against it. And there’s another geothermal test well going in soon in an earthquake zone in northern California. The only way Gore will come out against geothermal is if they accidentally find oil and gas along the way.