Geothermal energy is stored as heat in the earth.
The heat is generated by the natural decay over millions of years of radiogenic elements including uranium, thorium and potassium.
Geothermal energy can be drawn from the hot water circulating among rocks below the earth’s surface, or by pumping cold water into the hot rocks and returning the heated water to the surface. This can drive steam turbines to produce electricity.
Geothermal energy holds the promise of being a renewable energy source that could operate 24 hours a day, providing baseload power for Australian homes and industries. Geothermal energy can be used for heating and cooling purposes. There are a number of buildings, residential homes and swimming pools that currently use geothermal for these purposes. Australia has considerable geothermal energy potential.
Here is just a sample of what our geothermal projects are achieving. National ICT Australia and its partners are developing software and analysing geothermal data to help find the best geothermal energy sites while also causing a minimum impact to the environment.
How is geothermal energy used in Australia?
In Australia, two types of geothermal projects are being developed:
- enhanced geothermal systems (EGS or hot rocks)
- hot sedimentary aquifers (HSA).
Most current geothermal projects in Australia are still at proof-of-concept or early demonstration stage. Direct use technologies are at a more advanced stage of innovation and the opportunities lie in improving project economics and reducing upfront costs.
Take a look at our geothermal projects.
ARENA International Geothermal Expert Group
The ARENA International Geothermal Expert Group was established to investigate and report on the prospects for the commercial development of geothermal energy in Australia. The Expert Group reported its findings to the ARENA Board in July 2014.
The Expert Group has evaluated the prospects for either Enhanced Geothermal Systems or Hot Sedimentary Aquifer geothermal energy to deliver cost competitive energy to Australia without long-term subsidy.
The report provided options to the ARENA Board on how it may wish to allocate and prioritise its funding for geothermal energy as part of its portfolio approach to supporting renewable energy in Australia.
Read the International Geothermal Expert Group’s report.
- The kinds of geothermal projects we fund