The Australian's "Greenchip" column has an update on the state of the geothermal power / low temperature geothermal power industry in Australia - Market awaits birth of geothermal giant. The article cites a Morgan Stanley report on the sector, "noting that there were already 10 listed entities pursuing geothermal energy opportunities in Australia". The article also reports that our first commercial-scale wave power plant (the world's largest) will be built by Carnegie Corp at Garden Island, south of Perth, with 5 MW of capacity due online next year.
Australia's resources lie in more challenging deep aquifers, and the even deeper and more experimental hot rocks. Despite this, the industry believes up to 2000MW of capacity could be installed by 2020, but progress has been slowed by the impact of the global financial crisis, drip-feed funding from governments, and, more importantly, the lack of drilling rigs. A well blow-out that has caused lengthy delays at the most-advanced project owned by Geodynamics has also clouded the future of the hot-rock technology.
However, the hydrothermal developers say hot aquifers are not nearly as complicated as hot rocks. Birdsville has been partly powered by one such aquifer since 1992, and Greenearth Energy last week released a report highlighting the fact that hydrothermal plants of 70MW to 120MW had been operating in the US for the past 20 years and in Europe for the past decade.
Greenearth believes it could deliver energy from the first stage of its planned 140MW project near Geelong within three years of starting to drill. Panax sees an even shorter time frame for its project on the Limestone Coast in South Australia.
However, neither company can move forward because they are in a queue to use the one suitable and available drilling rig in Australia, currently being used at Petratherm's Parlana hot-rock project, which is several months behind schedule.