After many years of stagnant growth in geothermal power generation, development plans for new geothermal plants have recently emerged throughout Japan. Through a literature review, we investigated the relationships between the principal barriers to geothermal development and we thereby analyzed the deciding factors in the future success of such enterprises. The results show that the societal acceptance of geothermal power by local stakeholders is the fundamental barrier as it affects almost all other barriers, such as financial, technical, and political risks. Thus, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 26 stakeholders including developers, hot spring inn managers, and local government officials. Some hot spring inn managers and local government officials noted that they have always been strongly concerned about the adverse effects of geothermal power generation on hot springs; their opposition has delayed decision-making by local governments regarding drilling permits, prolonged lead times, and caused other difficulties. A key reason for opposition was identified as uncertainty about the reversibility and predictability of the adverse effects on hot springs and other underground structures by geothermal power production and reinjection of hot water from reservoirs. Therefore, we discuss and recommend options for improving the risk management of hot springs near geothermal power plants.
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