25/02/2009 - 22:00

Mattes rides geothermal surge

25/02/2009 - 22:00

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WHILE Western Australia's geothermal energy industry progresses at a snail's pace, former Perth-based BHP Billiton executive Bret Mattes is enjoying rapid progress in Indonesia.

Mattes rides geothermal surge

WHILE Western Australia's geothermal energy industry progresses at a snail's pace, former Perth-based BHP Billiton executive Bret Mattes is enjoying rapid progress in Indonesia.

In his new role as Star Energy Group's chief executive, Mr Mattes will be hosting Indonesia president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in two weeks for the official opening of the company's expanded steam field and geothermal power generation facility.

The expansion lifted the capacity of the power plant to 230 megawatts through the addition of a 117MW turbine, one of the world's largest.

"The formal approval and licensing of this new facility breaks new ground in a number of ways," Mr Mattes said.

The plant had up to 1,700 workers on site during a 21-month construction period and was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

"It utilises direct steam flow from only five wells, making it the most efficient geothermal plant in the world by a large margin," Mr Mattes said.

It is one of the few renewable energy projects globally that has been developed without government financial assistance of any kind.

The plant produces no greenhouse gases, and its wastewater is free of any toxic substances.

"This is a showcase renewable energy project, the lessons from which can be applied anywhere in the world."

Mr Mattes sees potential for the geothermal plant to grow to 650-700MW, which would make it the largest geothermal development in Indonesia and one of the largest in the world.

Indonesia has 30GW of geothermal power generation potential, the largest in the world.

Star Energy is an Indonesian/Singaporean/UK group of companies, which also operates oil and gas concessions and owns a subsea gas transmission pipeline through which transports natural gas for sale to Singapore.

The WA government is seeking to encourage geothermal exploration, earlier this year announcing preferred proponents for geothermal exploration in the Perth Basin.

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