Australian hot rocks project gets some help

20 February 2007 – The Australian federal government has provided an A$5m (US$3.9m) grant to a new hot rocks energy project in South Australia, according to a report by the Australian Associated Press.

Australian industry minister Ian Macfarlane said the funds would allow exploration company Petratherm to further develop its ground-breaking approach to using geothermal energy at its Paralana site in the Flinders Ranges.

The project uses a new technique to collect heat from sedimentary rocks at depths of three to four kilometres rather than from harder granites and much deeper depths.

“If this innovative approach is validated as a cost-effective option, it could significantly accelerate the building of sustainable, large-scale geothermal electricity generation capacity in regional and remote areas, both here and overseas,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Australia has vast hot rock energy resources and this project gives us a new path forward to use this energy source to make a very real contribution to Australia’s future electricity requirements.”

Federal environment minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Petratherm project had the potential to prove the viability of geothermal projects across the country.

Mr Turnbull said large-scale geothermal power plants had the potential to substantially reduce Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions and could provide up to 10 per cent of the country’s electricity needs by 2050.