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Queensland invests US$4.9m into geothermal exploration program

Coolum Beach, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia (source: flickr/ neilalderney123, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 28 Oct 2010

The Australian state of Queensland is to fund a shallow geothermal drilling program to explore potentially viable geothermal resources.

The state of Queensland in Australia is to fund a “search for new geothermal “hot rock” resources that could be used to generate clean energy for coastal towns and cities.

Mines and Energy Minister Stephen Robertson told Parliament today that the Government is investing AU$5 million (US$4.9m)  to identify whether areas closer to coastal power transmission infrastructure have potentially-viable geothermal resources.

“It’s the first geothermal drilling program of its kind undertaken in Australia,” the Minister said.

“The project will involve the collection and analysis of geoscientific data to identify potential areas of high heat flow in geological belts in areas in the east of the state.’’

The Government already operates Australia’s only geothermal power station at Birdsville, in far south west Queensland, but it is not economically viable to get that energy to coastal markets.

Areas closer to the coast identified as having possible geothermal potential include near Roma, in the Tarong Basin, the Maryborough Basin South, the Duaringa Basin North and the Hillsborough Basin.

Many of the sites are already near existing high voltage transmission infrastructure which would make it easier and cheaper to get geothermal generated energy to coastal towns and cities, Mr Robertson said.

Under the program, known as the Coastal Geothermal Energy Initiative, shallow test holes will be drilled to determine whether high heat flows exist that may indicate the presence of potentially-viable geothermal resources.

“Analysis of data from these holes will enable heat flow to be calculated, with the higher values indicating the possible presence of a potentially-viable geothermal resource,” the Minister said.

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

Mr Robertson said the geothermal exploration program further underlined the Government’s commitment to seeking new supplies of renewable energy sources.”

Source: Media-Newswire