Australia’s Birdsville geothermal power station will see upgrade

Alexander Richter 19 Jun 2009

The government of Queensland in Australia, is investing up to AU$ 4.3 million (US$ 3.4 million) to the upgrade of the Birdsville Geothermal Power Plant. It is a low-temperature plant and currently the country's only operating geothermal plant.

Reported locally, the government of Queensland in Australia, is investing up to AU$ 4.3 million (US$ 3.4 million) to the upgrade of the country’s only operating geothermal plant (as there are so far no news on when the pilot plant of Geodynamics will operate again).”

The Birdswell Geothermal Plant is one of very few low-temperature polants with its well tapping into the 98C hot water of the Great Artesian Basin, and being 1230 metres deep. The plant can generate a modest 120 kW net power output.

The investment is “to help replace ageing equipment at the Ergon Energy-owned and operated plant. The funding will provide a 50 per cent subsidy for the project which will invest in new, leading edge geothermal technology.

“The plant draws its energy from near-boiling water taken deep from within the Great Artesian Basin that supplies water for the town. “The power station currently generates about 30 per cent of Birdsville’s energy supplies.

“It’s also helping the local environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 400 tonnes a year and diesel fuel consumption by approximately 160,000 litres.” Member for Mount Isa Betty Kiernan said the plant upgrade would significantly increase the station’s electricity generating potential.

“The Birdsville geothermal plant was coming to the end of its operational life and the options were simple – upgrade or walk away.

“At any given moment the present plant produces 80 kilowatts of geothermal power. Depending on what geothermal technology is selected, the upgrade could increase the output from a minimum of 90 kilowatts up to 340 kilowatts,”

“This would provide at least 724,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) of clean renewable energy a year compared to the 522,600 KWh produced in 2007.

“The new power station could also save up to 1,575 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year and reduce fuel consumption by at least 181,000 litres per year.

“Ergon Energy is also examining options to see whether the power station can one day supply all of Birdsville’s power from geothermal energy. “

The government is providing up to AU$4.3 million for the project with a grant from the Queensland Renewable Energy Fund.

The balance of the project cost will be met by Queensland Government-owned energy corporation, Ergon Energy.

The Birdsville power station was first commissioned in 1992 and remains Australia’s only operational geothermal power station capable of electricity generation 24 hours a day.

The energy source comes from hot water taken from the Great Artesian Basin at a depth of 1,280 metres. This hot bore water provides a ‘free’ energy resource, which would otherwise be wasted when water is cooled before use.

Birdsville Geothermal Power Station Factsheet (pdf document)

Source: News