Hot prospect for geothermal power

A South Australian geothermal well could become the first Hot Sedimentary Aquifer (HAS) well to provide power in Australia.

Panax Geothermal managing director, Dr Bertus de Graaf told Energy Source & Distribution the Salamander-1 drilling rig broke ground at the company’s Penola project in the Otway Basin.

“This is the first step in making geothermal power a reality for the Australian public and simultaneously reducing carbon emissions,” Dr de Graaf said.

Dr de Graaf said the Salamander-1 drilling rig was continuing to meet all expectations and was on schedule to meet its March target depth of 4000 m.
Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism, the Hon. Martin Ferguson, unveiled a plaque commemorating the pioneering status of the well in March.

Using a mining database generated by 28 petroleum wells drilled into the target reservoir, the HSA process extracts hot water from an existing aquifer bringing hot water up to the surface to a heat exchange.

The proximity of the Penola project to the National Electricity Market Management Company (NEMMCO) meant it was one of the only renewable energy projects in the country capable of powering thousands of homes, according to Dr de Graaf.

The well is designed with the aim of converting the Penola project’s measured geothermal resources into geothermal reserves sufficient to commence the development of a 5.9 MW plant.

An independently reviewed pre-feasibility study has shown the project has the potential to generate Australia’s cheapest clean energy, according to Panax.

Panax has a measured geothermal resource of 11,000 PJ at the Penola project which has the capacity to deliver hundreds of megawatts of zero emission power.

The project covers an area of 493 sq km and is part of Panax’s larger Limestone Coast geothermal project, which covers a total area of 3127 sq km.

Panax’s focus is on exploring existing reservoirs containing hot geothermal fluids, which have fewer risks than hot fractured rock geothermal projects and a much shorter development time.

The company acquired the ‘Lightning’ drilling rig for Salamander-1 from US based owner Weatherford International Drilling in 2009.