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Hot Rock Geothermal Energy - Australia Leading the World
However, since 2001 a growing number of companies have embarked on exploration projects, and a government official has stated that geothermal energy could provide as much as 6.8 per cent of Australia’s base load power requirements by 2030.
Of particular interest to the explorers are the hot fractured rock deposits of Central Australia, also referred to as Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). These are granite systems that at great depth – often as much as five kilometres – are as hot as 280 degrees Celsius. Water injected into these systems returns as steam, and can be harnessed for power generation.
The Australian government has identified EGS as a technology in which Australia is a world leader. According to the Australian Geothermal Energy Group, “Initial drilling results indicate that Australia’s EGS resources are among the best in the world”. Indeed, such is the scope of the Central Australia resource that it could in theory power the entire nation.
Present indications are that by 2010 at least some of the developers might be able to supply power to the national grid.
Eight of the companies involved in hot fractured rock projects - not all are involved in Central Australia - are listed on the Australian Securities Exchange They are:
Eden Energy is an intriguing company with interests in a range of renewable energy projects, but with a particular specialty in hydrogen developments. It holds a portfolio of geothermal tenements in South Australia, adjoining those of Geodynamics, and began drilling in late-2007. It wishes to spin off this business into a new listed company.
Geodynamics is the Australian pioneer in this field. Thanks to an intensive drilling program it has established the presence of large underground hot rock formations superior to any others known elsewhere in the world. It is the largest and most advanced of all the Australian companies, and hopes evenutally to build a $770-million, 300MW power plant.
Geothermal Resources was spun off from the gold explorer Havilah Resources in 2006 to undertake hot rock exploration work at two sites.
Green Rock Energy has been drilling since 2005 and has moved onto the next stage of establishing a trial water circulation system capable of producing geothermal energy. It is also involved in a joint venture project to build a geothermal power plant in Hungary.
KUTh Energy has been formed to explore for sites in the Australian island state of Tasmania that are suitable for hot fractured rock development.
Panax Geothermal is run by the founding managing director of Geodynamics. It is the developer of the Limestone Coast geothermal project in South Australia and also holds geothermal interests in India and Kyrgyzstan.
Petratherm believes it has located a high-quality geothermal resource, and it has established a joint venture with Beach petroleum (also publicly listed) to develop this further. It is also involved in geothermal projects in Spain and China.
Torrens Energy was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2007, and it has initiated a drilling program. In January 2008 it announced that “early results are comparable to the best ‘hot rock’ exploration results recorded in Australia”.
January 30th, 2008