Aussie and NZ group applies to found Geothermal Cooperative Research Centre

Snapshot of Prospectus for the Australia/ New Zealand Geothermal Cooperative Research Centre 2012
Alexander Richter 28 Mar 2012

A group of Australian and NZ researchers is applying for 5-7 years funding as part of the Cooperative Research Centre program in Australia to achieve a step in change improvement in the flows obtained from engineered geothermal reservoirs.

A group of Australian and New Zealand geothermal researchers are preparing a proposal for a 5-7 year program aimed at achieving a step change improvement in the flows obtained from engineered geothermal reservoirs. The proposed research program covers sedimentary and hot rock resources addresses exploration, reservoir enhancement and subsurface engineering issues as well as policy, regulatory and societal issues as they relate to the adoption of geothermal energy. Improved flows will of course impact on electricity generation as well as direct use applications such as heating and cooling, desalination and heat for minerals processing and other uses.

The outcomes of the research program can be summarised as follows:

  • Increasing the chances of success of the first and subsequent wells by increasing the probability of finding suitable geological formations with the required flow rates, thus reducing exploration risk.
  • Improving supply through achieving reliable commercial flow rates; better planned, conducted and reviewed stimulation operations; improved understanding and management of stimulation activities.
  • Reducing costs through improving reservoir stimulation efficacy through optimised well completions; prolonged well life; decreased operating costs over the life of a geothermal project.
  • Creating a more skilled geothermal industry that can work with stakeholders; and better information for decision making that ensures well balanced policy, regulatory and financial settings.

The proposal will be made to the Australian Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) program. This program aims to deliver significant economic, environmental and social benefits to Australia by supporting end-user driven research partnerships between publicly funded researchers and end-users to address clearly articulated, major challenges that require medium to long term collaborative efforts. A step change in geothermal heat flows to the surface is such a major challenge and achieving it will have benefits that extend outside Australia. Information on the CRC program can be found here:

The geothermal CRC funding sought will be between AU$ 35-50 million plus significant in-kind contributions from the geothermal industry. Around half the funding will be provided by the Australian government, with the remaining coming from end users. The CRC will be set up as a company and governed by a majority independent Board.

The group is now seeking end users who believe they can adopt the outcomes of this program and are willing to become active participants. Benefits of participation include access to leading geothermal researchers and linkages into many of the leading industry participants, as well as significant leverage of investment.

For the actual Prospectus document of the group, see: (pdf)

The Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) concept is well known in Australia and New Zealand, and there are currently about 44 CRC operating in various industry sectors. “A CRC is an incorporated or unincorporated organisation, formed through collaborative partnerships between publicly funded researchers and end users. CRCs must comprise at least one Australian end-user (either from the private, public or community sector) and one Australian higher education institution (or research institute affiliated with a university).” (source: They are key bodies for Australian scientific research and aims at enhancing industrial, commercial and economic growth through the development of sustained, user-driven, cooperative public-private research centres with the aim to achieve high level outcomes in adoption and commercialisation.”

For the 2012 program there is a focus on clean tech, social inclusion and regions.

It seems like a great way of pushing development forward for geothermal energy in Australia and the region.

I would like to congratulate Arno Schaaf of CSIRO for his appointment and wish the application that it will be successful.