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Queensland invests $26m into Geothermal Centre of Excellence and development

University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia (source: flickr/ urban adventures, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 20 Apr 2011

The Australian state of Queensland is pushing the state's geothermal activities with funding of AU$25m announced today. $15m of that will go to the University of Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence, about $5m each into a research of geothermal potential in the Coastal area of Queensland and into an upgrade into the geothermal power plant at Birdsville.

In an announcement today, the University of Qeensland in Australia reports the Opening the Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence (QGECE) at the school.

“Queensland is establishing itself as a global hub for geothermal energy research, technology development and jobs, Energy Minister Stephen Robertson said today, and adds that “the centre was playing a key role in the State Government’s renewable energy strategy.”

“Geothermal has a bright future in Queensland because it has the potential to produce more base-load energy than any other renewable energy source,” he said.

“That’s why the government is investing $25 million towards geothermal energy research and development projects in Queensland.”

Mr Robertson said the government’s $15 million investment in the QGECE represented the largest investment in geothermal energy research in Australia.

“The QGECE is undertaking research and development to progress large-scale electricity generation from subterranean hot rocks and hot sedimentary aquifers,” he said.

“Research includes electricity transmission and power network modelling; geothermal reservoir exploration, characterisation and management; plus development of new turbines and cooling systems to optimise geothermal power plant production and efficiency.

“This important work is helping position Queensland as a leading technology provider in the growing international geothermal energy sector.

“Collaborative research partnerships have been established with the Central Research Institute for Electrical Industry of Japan; GFZ-Potsdam of Germany and United States power plant and turbine manufacturer, Verdicorp.

“QGECE is also working with other Australian universities to create undergraduate and post-graduate programs to develop a skills base for jobs in emerging geothermal industries.”

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland Professor Paul Greenfield welcomed the State Government’s $15 million investment in the centre.

“This investment has enabled the University to build the only centre in the world that addresses one of the biggest remaining challenges of geothermal technology — how to increase power conversion efficiencies,” Professor Greenfield said.

“By investigating how to efficiently convert the power of hot rocks into useable electricity, the researchers could transform geothermal energy into an economically viable addition to Queensland’s electricity mix.

“The Centre’s global reputation in this space has led to a series of international partnerships and a crop of excellent PhD students from Australia and six other countries.

“Through these young researchers, Queensland is making a vital contribution to the global future of zero-emissions energy,” he said.

The University of Queensland research centre complements other Queensland Government geothermal initiatives including:

  • $5 million Coastal Geothermal Energy Initiative to identify areas of high geothermal heat flow along the Queensland coast that may unlock viable geothermal resources closer to power transmission networks.
  • $4.3 million to upgrade Australia’s only operating geothermal power station at Birdsville from its current 80 kilowatt capacity to up to 400 kilowatts.
  • A new regulatory framework to enable the development of large-scale geothermal energy projects and provide exploration and investment certainty to industry.”

Source: University of Queensland News