Geothermal energy potential in much of Australia is uncertain because of the great depths at which most of the hot rocks exist, and the difficulties of fracturing them to be able to inject water to capture their heat. Geothermal resources in Victoria, such as the project near Geelong, are of a more conventional type, but if the potential in South Australia’s deep Hot Dry Rock (HDR) resources can be tapped then it will be a significant source of energy.
This article highlights the support for the carbon price package from many sectors of the renewables industry. Friends of the Earth Australia has criticised the carbon price overall, for its generous handouts to polluters and for its limited impact on greenhouse gas emissions, but also welcomes the new infrastructure to deliver renewable energy contained within it.
Geothermal power heats up with newfound certainty
Adam Morton, The Age, July 12, 2011
SCIENTISTS estimate there is enough energy stored in hot rocks beneath Australia’s surface to meet its power demands millions of times over, but bold prognostications have not been enough for the geothermal industry.
Kevin Rudd’s abandonment of Labor’s first proposed emissions trading scheme hit the industry hard, with share prices plummeting and investors baulking. “That policy backflip has hurt the industry, no doubt,” says Terry Kallis, managing director of South Australian company geothermal Petratherm. Hot rocks power remains a highly speculative industry, but things are slowly looking up for Petratherm.
Last month, it began fracturing rock four kilometres beneath the Earth’s surface in the North Flinders Ranges using part of a $7 million federal government drilling grant — the key step in proving a geothermal reservoir can be created deep underground and the project has a future. Mr Kallis said he believes his is the only company with an active hot rocks project.
Yesterday Petrotherm’s shares leapt 16 per cent, reaching a high of 23.5¢ before closing at 19¢. It is a far cry from its high of 92¢, but is an important reflection of the role the carbon price package — and a new $10 billion clean energy finance corporation, largely paid for with carbon tax revenue — could play in developing the industry.
“It has put us back on track, which is very important,” Mr Kallis says.