Geothermal research shows increased potential

Geothermal research completed to date has provided important advances in understanding the technical aspects of the technology, according to Geoscience Australia geothermal energy section leader Dr Anthony Budd.

This is despite investment in the geothermal exploration sector diminishing since the global financial crisis, the Geothermal Resources symposium co-convenor said in August.

Securing geothermal energy as a cost-effective renewable energy source was the topic of discussion at the scientific symposium held at the International Geological Congress in August.

Geoscience Australia, under the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future Initiative, is supporting the development of a viable geothermal industry in Australia through the provision of pre-competitive geothermal information.

“The focus of Geoscience Australia’s recent work has included gathering new heat flow data from multiple sites across Australia. Further to this, modelling has been undertaken to determine the resource potential at a regional scale, and we have also produced a continental scale map showing predicted temperatures of potential geothermal sites,” Dr Budd said.

The symposium saw discussion on the key technical challenges facing the geothermal energy industry in Australia. One significant technical challenge is the establishment of high water flow rates that are fundamental to the geothermal extraction process.

There have been advances at several test sites to achieve consistent water flow rates, Dr Budd said.

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