Advancing ‘hot rocks’ technology
Geothermal technology involves producing power from underground heat beneath the Earth’s surface. With recent research by scientists showing an abundance of hot dry rock in Australia, it is hoped it will supply five per cent of the country’s energy requirements by 2020.
There are numerous factors which make this energy source attractive, not least that it could allow States to achieve energy security by having a localised source.
Geothermal hopefuls are engaged in a race to refine geothermal technology and reduce the costs associated with it.
One such company, Geodynamics, believes this is the next step having recently achieved “proof of concept”. This followed the completion of the closed loop test at its Habanero project in South Australia’s Cooper Basin and an independent analysis of the test results by US-based geothermal consultants GeothermEx.
GeothermEx president Subir Sanyal said Geodynamics had demonstrated its ability to extract heat from hydraulically stimulated hot fractured rock to create power.
This enables the company to move forward with plans to develop a commercial demonstration plant in line with Stage 2 of its business plan.
Commercial demonstration will, among other things, focus on improved drilling performance and well costs. It will also demonstrate the ability to stimulate and circulate through multiple zones in the granite to enhance well productivity and injectivity to required levels and to increase the recoverable resource base.
In achieving “proof of concept”, the company has demonstrated resource definition, the ability to drill and complete wells, hydraulically stimulate fractures and develop a substantial reservoir volume.
Geodynamics managing director Gerry Grove-White said that his company and joint venture partner Origin Energy expect to be supplying electricity to the iconic outback South Australian town of Innamincka from the first hot fractured rock geothermal one megawatt pilot plant in Australia by mid-2009.
“The famous Innamincka Hotel will soon be serving icy cold beer chilled using hot rock geothermal energy,” he said.
“The town of Innamincka will also be able to kick a $15,000 a month diesel generator habit when we replace their generators with our electricity.”
Grove-White said achieving “proof of concept” was a significant prerequisite for the company’s application for funding from the Federal Government’s $500 million Renewable Energy Development Program, which must be submitted by mid-April.
Grove-White said the company had also established a Geothermal Technology Plan (GTP) to drive the development of geothermal technologies in Australia, and internationally – to which it has committed $5 million.
“Commencing in 2009, the GTP will provide funds to further progress and develop geothermal technology. GTP projects will run in conjunction with Australian and international research institutions, and also with global geothermal bodies,” he said.
“Geodynamics has identified a number of Australian and international institutions that are recognised leaders in particular areas and we are working with those institutions to frame detailed plans for the various projects.
“The developments will provide direct benefit to the Cooper Basin Project, as well as to the broader geothermal industry in Australia and globally. For this reason, Geodynamics expects the projects to be co-funded.”
Grove-White said the scale and quality of the Cooper Basin geothermal resource means that it will continue to be developed for many decades.
“It is important that Geodynamics starts to strengthen its longer-term technology relationships and to work with institutions to build technological solutions to suit the company’s rapidly growing needs.
4th Hot Rock Energy Conference
June 4-5, 2009 - Melbourne
The serious impacts of climate change and the depletion of fossil fuels have increased the need for environmentally-friendly energy sources. One potential energy source that has come to prominence is geothermal energy.
The market for geothermal energy will be examined at Informa’s 4th annual Hot Rock Energy conference to take place at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne.
The Hot Rock Energy conference will cover the latest technological changes that are driving geothermal energy and inform attendees on how they can take advantage of the commercial opportunities.
For more information visit: http://www.informa.com.au/conferences/energy-utilities/power-electricity/the-4th-annual-hot-rock-energy-conference/