In the next 5 years an estimated $500 million is going to be spent on investigating hot rocks energy in Australia.

In 2012 the forecast is that more than $500 million is going to be spent on the ultra deep geothermal power quest from northern South Australia to other parts of the central Australia, including the bordering Queensland, Northern Territory and New South Wales. Barry Goldstein, the director of Petroleum and Geothermal for Primary Industry & Resources South Australia said that this will include concept testing, exploration and demo of the hot rock alternative energy source.

“Australia’s geothermal licences have been on the rise and are a good outlook on the future” Goldstein said.

Granite system with very high temperatures at a depth as much as 4 kilometers are being drilled by different companies including:

  • Petrotherm Energy
  • Geodynamics Ltd
  • Green Rock Energy
  • Pacific Hydro

Geodynamics proved that the flow of geothermal energy from Habanero wells and will soon develop a demo project.

Two wells had been drilled and one was deepened by Petraherm. Paralana 1B well suggests that at 3.6 km temperatures as high as 200° C. The next step is to take one well and test the proof of concept.

This concept relies on finding big blocks of these so-called “hot rocks” with fractures that could heat up injected water through these fractures and then being returned as hot steam.

“The sector growth which will dominate in South Australia, 12 companies applied for around 116 areas and will invest $A524 in these projects in the next 6 years.”

“Australia is a “hot rock haven” and this renewable and emissions free energy could provide around 7% of all Australia’s base power needs by the year 2030″ Goldstein added.

Geoscience Australia estimates that this geothermal resource could be around 1.2 billion petajoules.

Several milestones are still up ahead – all of them pointing the way towards geothermal energy being commercially accessible.

10 projects are expected to have an impact on the success of exploration and “proof-of-concept” that energy and heat flows by 2010. Another 3 project should demonstrate “power generation by 2012.

These are the milestones that will indeed demonstrate that hot rock energy and geothermal power generation is real.

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