Understanding Australia’s geothermal energy potential is one step closer following today’s inaugural announcement of $1.25 million by the Australian Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) which commenced on 1 July 2012.
In announcing the grant, Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP, stated that ARENA would provide the $1.25 million from its Emerging Renewables Program to the South Australian Centre for Geothermal Energy Research at the University of Adelaide.
The grant will contribute to a $3.54 million project to better understand and predict the permeability of geothermal drilling wells.
“Understanding permeability, or the ability of a rock to allow fluids to pass through it, is essential to predict the potential for geothermal energy generation from hot water that is circulating deep underground, known as hot sedimentary aquifers,” Minister Ferguson said.
“If we can predict well permeability more accurately companies can better determine exploration and production sites, leading to lower costs and risk in the geothermal industry.
“The two geothermal wells drilled in hot sedimentary aquifers reservoirs in Australia have achieved fluid flow rates, and hence permeability, that was significantly lower than expected.
“This project will help address two important technical challenges confronting the geothermal energy industry in Australia: well drilling practices to assess potential damage to the rock during drilling and evaluation of the anticipated fluid flow rates.”
The University of Adelaide’s initiative will undertake a scientific analysis of Australia’s two existing geothermal wells drilled in hot sedimentary aquifers – the Cooper-Eromanga Basin covering north-east of South Australia and south west Queensland and the Otway Basin in Southern Victoria and South Australia. Outcomes of the study will include remediation strategies for the wells and recommendations for drilling practices or other mitigation strategies that will help avoid damage to geothermal wells.
The study is expected to be completed in September 2014 with participation from CSIRO, Geodynamics Limited, Panax Geothermal Limited and the South Australian Department of Manufacturing, Industry, Trade, Resources and Energy.
“I am pleased to see the collaboration across research institutions, government and industry to deliver this project,” Minister Ferguson said.
“I also extend my congratulations to ARENA on making its inaugural funding decision and for maintaining momentum in the renewables sector since it commenced on 1 July.”