Australian geothermal innovation

South Australia is set for some energy innovation, using geothermal technology to produce power.

Consumers also benefit from such innovations and discoveries, as more energy choices encourage more competitive electricity prices.

Geodynamics, a geothermal exploration and development company in the field of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGC) has emerged as the first company to successfully produce power in Australia from deep underground using 'hot rocks' technology.

The Clean Energy Council has congratulated the company on its success, commenting that its 1MW Habanero Pilot Plant is a demonstration of world-beating Australian innovation.

The plant is located in Innamincka, a small settlement in South Australia. It will be trialled for a 100 day period leading up until this August, when its performance will be evaluated.

“This type of geothermal energy produces power by superheating water using hot rocks deep beneath the ground. If developed further, it could potentially produce large amounts of electricity around the clock," said Clean Energy Council policy director Russell Marsh.

According to the Clean Energy Council, while the technology is still in its early stages, this is an example of innovation and breakthroughs that could change the global energy landscape.

"The generation of power at our 1MWe Pilot Plant is a major milestone for Geodynamics, geothermal power in Australia and EGS technology globally. The commencement of the demonstration trial is the culmination of many years of hard work and the application of rigorous engineering and field operations," said managing director and chief executive officer of Geodynamics, Geoff Ward.

"The Habanero EGS Project is a globally significant demonstration of EGS geothermal capability. I would like to acknowledge the support of the Australian government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s provision of the Renewable Energy Demonstration Program grant funding."

Mr Ward commented that the funding the company received has been critical in reaching its milestone achievement, and in demonstrating its world leading capability in EGS.

EGS is a new type of geothermal power - an evolution from naturally occurring geothermal systems.

The US Department of Energy describes the process of EGS, beginning with the presence of hot rock underground, but inadequate amounts of permeability or fluid saturation in the rock.

To address this, fluid is injected into the subsurface and this causes small pre-existing cracks in the rock to re-open, making it permeable.

This means fluid can then circulate throughout the rock, in order to transport heat to the surface where the electricity can be generated, providing a vast new energy supply.