Clean geothermal power in Australia

The industry for geothermal power is an emerging one worldwide, especially in Australia with the vast natural resources this form of power generation is set to proliferate.

Geothermal power is completely free of carbon emissions and is available around the clock. This form of energy is generated through 'hot rocks' with fracture systems in the ground. Water is then injected into the fractures and is returned to the surface as steam and it's through this process that electricity is generated.

The government's Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has recognised the potential in such projects, and has provided a $13 million grant to the company Petratherm with its partner Beach Energy, to develop the Parlana Project.

The grant comes from ARENA's Emerging Renewables Program, to assist Petratherm in the drilling and development of its hock rock reservoir.

The grant matches funds from Petratherm itself, and also includes two conditions. These conditions are that Beach energy commits to fund its 21 per cent equity share of the matching funding project costs, and that Petratherm secures another $5 million in equity within six months.

If Petratherm satisfies these conditions, then the next stage of the project will begin later this year.

Petratherm is a company dedicated to exploration and development of emission free, geothermal energy projects which are commercially sustainable. The company is based in Adelaide and is involved in projects spanning from Australia to Spain and China.

The potential of geothermal energy is such that Geoscience Australia has estimated that through exploiting only a small one per cent of the geothermal heat resource within the top five kilometres of the earth's crust, 26,000 times the nation's annual energy consumption could be provided.

It is an even more reliable source of power than solar and wind because it needs no particular environmental condition such as sunlight or wind to be powered - just the earth's natural heat, so it can provide long-term base load power.

As demand for new electricity generation is likely to continue to expand in coming years, geothermal is one form of energy which may be able to contribute to the energy supply for consumers.

Renewable technologies are often seen as the answer to high electricity and gas prices, so consumers may be encouraged by the development of geothermal energy in Australia.

Posted by Charlie Moore