ALCOA has signed an agreement to host a controversial geothermal power plant on the company’s Surf Coast coal mine land, according to a spokesperson.
But the spokesperson said Alcoa was as yet unable to say whether the agreement with Greenearth Energy could allow the aluminium giant to close its coal-fired power plant near Anglesea.
The spokesperson called the agreement a “zero-emission power investment” for Alcoa.
“We are interested in looking at energy sources all the way around the world that are renewable, as we are using renewable energy in Iceland now.”
The spokesperson said the Greenearth project could deliver a reliable zero-emission energy source on Alcoa’s “doorstep”.
“Other power sources have high levels of intermittency and this project, as a base-load generator, could provide reliable power,” the spokesperson said.
Alcoa uses the Anglesea coal-fired station to supply around 40 per cent of the power requirement at the company’s Point Henry operations.
Greenearth Energy managing director Mark Miller said the memorandum of intent between the companies was to select a “drill location” close to the Alcoa power plant.
“Alcoa, by way of support, could potentially benefit from having a base-load renewable energy emissions-free power plant within their vicinity,” Mr Miller said.
He called the MOI the “first step” toward establishing base-load geothermal power in Victoria.
Mr Miller said exploration drilling would determine the final site on Alcoa’s mining lease.
Greenearth Energy’s “proposed geothermal project resource area” was approximately nine kilometres north-west of the Alcoa operation, he said.
Gherang residents have opposed the geothermal project, fearing a range of environmental threats ranging from water contamination to earthquackes.
Harnessing geothermal power involves tapping deep-underground heat to produce electricity.
Greenearth Energy told the Independent in July it planned to have the plant running in 12 months.
From the Geelong Independent
Journalist: Erin Pearson
18th November 2010