29/01/2009 - 13:58

Geothermal energy a step closer for WA

29/01/2009 - 13:58


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West Perth-based Green Rock Energy, ARC Energy and Worsley Alumina are some of the preferred applicants chosen by the state government to harness geothermal energy in the Perth Basin.

Geothermal energy a step closer for WA

West Perth-based Green Rock Energy, ARC Energy and Worsley Alumina are some of the preferred applicants chosen by the state government to harness geothermal energy in the Perth Basin.


The announcement is below:


Harnessing geothermal energy in the Perth Basin is one step closer with the announcement
of the preferred applicants for geothermal exploration by Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore.

Most of the applicants, who will be granted permission after completing Native Title negotiations, are expected to use the geothermal energy to generate electricity for the State's power needs.

Mr Moore said the release of the preferred applicants heralded the start of a new industry that would reap benefits for the State's economy.

"The expected expenditure for geothermal exploration for the 36 permits in the Perth Basin is more than $560million in the next six years," he said.

"This industry has the potential to provide clean energy to the State's electricity network and offer innovative solutions for companies to meet their own power requirements.

"Harnessing geothermal energy, for heating and power use, is another feather in the State's clean energy cap."

One applicant that will use geothermal energy for its own use is The University of Western Australia (UWA), which plans to harness the geothermal energy below its Crawley grounds to power the campus' air-conditioning, and heat its swimming pools.

The data collected from this project will also be used by the university to further its case for a desalination plant that utilises geothermal energy to create fresh water.

UWA holds a provisional patent on a geothermal desalination plant that could boost the freshwater yield of a typical multi-effect distillation desalination plant by 30 to 40 per cent.

The State Government last year announced funding of $2.3million for a Geothermal Centre of Excellence - a joint venture of CSIRO, UWA and Curtin University of Technology - that would build capacity and knowledge in WA to undertake exploration and development of geothermal resources.

The centre is led by Professor Klaus Regenauer-Lieb, a geothermal expert and Premier's Research Fellow in Multi-scale Earth System Dynamics, who said the centre would contribute towards addressing the global problem of securing low-emission energy sources.

Professor Regenauer-Lieb said the centre would focus on the geological setting of sedimentary basins like the Perth Basin, where heat is available for use.

Geothermal groundwater convection in such basins provides a natural underground heat exchanger.

"Geothermal energy is classically used in volcanic settings in many countries such as the USA, Iceland and New Zealand for power generation and has been used in WA for heating the swimming pools at Challenge Stadium and Christ Church Grammar School," Professor Regenauer-Lieb said.

"We want to go one step further and use our natural hot geothermal water to air-condition cities."

The Minister said the new geothermal acreage releases are in the Perth metropolitan area; south of Kwinana; north of Bunbury; west and southwest of Collie; and south of Geraldton.

The preferred applicants are:

- Green Rock Energy Limited/University of Western Australia - one area in Perth
- Green Rock Energy Limited/Worlsey Alumina Pty Ltd - three areas
- Green Rock Energy Limited/ARC Energy Limited - eight areas
- Green Rock Energy Limited - three areas
- AAA Energy Pty Ltd - one area
- Austral Iron Pty Ltd - one area
- New World Energy Solutions Pty Ltd - nine areas
- Granite Power Limited - two areas
- Geothermal Power Limited - three areas
- Torrens Energy Limited - two areas
- Thermal Resources Pty Ltd - three areas


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