Geothermal power in Australia
Geothermal power in Australia is little used but growing. There are known and potential locations near the centre of the country that have been shown to contain hot granites at depth which hold good potential for development of geothermal energy. Exploratory geothermal wells have been drilled to test for the presence of high temperature geothermal reservoir rocks and such hot granites were detected. As a result, projects will eventuate in the coming years and more exploration is expected to find new locations.
There is exploration being conducted in all states and the Northern Territory but there is no commercial production of geothermal energy in Australia. Exploration involves finding vast blocks of "hot rocks" with fracture systems that could generate electricity through water being injected, circulated through the fractures, and being returned to surface as steam which could then be used to rotate steam turbines.
There are vast deep-seated granite systems in Central Australia that have high temperatures at depth and these are being drilled by companies such as Panax Geothermal, Geodynamics Ltd, Petratherm, Green Rock Energy and Pacific Hydro to depths of more than four kilometres.
South Australia has been described as "Australia's hot rock haven" and this renewable energy form could provide an estimated 6.8% of Australia's base load power needs by 2030. According to a conservative estimate by the Centre for International Economics, Australia has enough geothermal energy to contribute electricity for 450 years.
A 25 MW Cooper Basin demonstration project to assess the potential of hot-rock geothermal energy for zero-emission, base-load power was commenced by Geodynamics. However, the project was abandoned after being assessed as uneconomic due to a combination of the cost of commercialising generation and the remoteness of the site.
"The technology worked but unfortunately the cost of implementing the technology and also the cost of delivering the electricity that was produced to a market was just greater than the revenue stream that we could create," Geodynamics chief executive Chris Murray said.
Professor Martin Hand ran the South Australian Centre for Geothermal Energy Research at the University of Adelaide said, "I think it was talked up too much — it's a very nice concept on the front page of a newspaper, looks very easy to do, and I think it was over-spruiked”
Geodynamics is no longer exploring geothermal power and is instead looking at other green energy initiatives. It has therefore changed its name to ReNu Energy and changed its ASX code to RNE.
The Jurien-Woodada project, owned by New World Energy Limited, is the most advanced geothermal play in Western Australia for electricity production. The project is adjacent to transmission infrastructure and large resource-driven energy markets in the mid-west region. The project area has the potential to contain both hot sedimentary aquifer and EGS styles and is being assessed for delivery of electricity into Western Australia's South West Interconnected System.
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The Penola Project is part of Panax’s Limestone Coast Project and is the largest of only four known Measured Geothermal Resources in Australia. An independent assessment has estimated the geothermal resource potential at 11,000 petajoules.
The Penola Project has an extensive database with 28 petroleum wells. The deepest petroleum exploration well is approximately 4,000 metres and intersects more than 1,000 metres of the target reservoir, the Pretty Hill Sandstone.
Panax’s Salamander-1 well, drilled in 2010 is the first deep geothermal well drilled in the Otway Basin. It was completed in record time and is the first to demonstrate conventional geothermal technology in Australia. First steam was produced and the well-testing programme was also completed on the project in 2010.
The Salamander-1 well met its primary objectives. At 4,000 metres projected geothermal temperatures were exceeded by more than 10°C and target reservoir rocks met the requirements for the development of a geothermal demonstration plant. An in-house pre-feasibility study found the project has the potential to generate power at $83 per megawatt hour, which is cheaper than wind power. Complications with the well were found during well-testing. Reservoir engineers have been engaged to examine the well and carry out remediation works.
Panax a conventional geothermal technology in Australia with its Salamander-1 well and is securing funding from the Australian Federal Government to progress the Penola Project.
|Company Name||Area of operations||Furthest project advancement||Geothermal only||ASX code|
|Geodynamics||Hunter Region, Innamincka||Advanced pilot plant development||Yes||GDY|
|Earth Heat Resources||South Australia||Current focus is on foreign developments||Yes||EHR|
|New World Energy||Pilbara, Perth basin||Resource drilling||Yes|
|Green Rock Energy||Roxby Downs, Perth basin||Resource drilling||Yes||GRK|
|Pacific Hydro||Tenement appraisals||No|
|Panax Geothermal||Limestone Coast||Pilot plant production wells||Yes||PAX|
|Greenearth Energy||Anglesea, Gippsland||Pilot plant planning||Yes||GER|
|Torrens Energy||Parachilna||Validation drilling||No||TEY|
|Southern Gold Ltd||Roxby Downs||Temperature mapping||No||SAU|
|Hot Rock Ltd||Penola, Otway Basin||Validation drilling||Yes||HRL|
|Origin Energy||Joint venture partner||No||ORG|
- Geothermal desalination
- Renewable energy in Australia
- Wind power in Australia
- Solar power in Australia
- Biofuel in Australia
- Renewable energy by country
- Geothermal electricity#Utility-grade plants
- Big energy role for central Australia’s hot rocks
- Scientists get hot rocks off over green nuclear power
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- Australia Invests $235 Million In Renewable Energy Projects Archived 2009-12-28 at the Wayback Machine The Gov Monitor, 9 November 2009.
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- "Geothermal energy" (PDF). Environmental Protection Agency, Queensland Government. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-27. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Geodynamics says it has 'hottest rocks on earth' in Cooper Basin
- Hot rock energy
- Centre to study geothermal energy at Univ of Adelaide
- Primary Industries and Resources SA - Geothermal Energy
- $3m For SA Geothermal Energy Project
- "Geothermal Energy - Hot Dry Rocks". CSIRO.[permanent dead link]