Power generation to converge in SA clean energy precinct

Geothermal explorer and developer Petratherm plans to deliver 600MW of power to north-west South Australia through a clean energy precinct.

The precinct is to initially comprise gas and wind, and will later have solar power generation facilities, tailored to meet the needs of mining. It will subsequently incorporate geothermal power connections.

The 1800sq km land will have access to the Paralana joint-venture geothermal exploration licences (GELs) and will be the closest point to the on-grid market where there is a convergence of gas, wind, solar and geothermal.

The precinct will be designed to be a key enabler of monetising the large geothermal resource covered by the Paralana GELs. It is planned to develop 600MW of power generation to meet the demand expected to be created over the next five-to-six years from large mining developments in the region. One option for connection to the on-grid market is via Olympic Dam and Petratherm intends to initiate commercial discussions with BHP Billiton to explore this.

The project is estimated to cost around $1.5 billion and is expected to be a major contributor to the reduction of the national and state CO² emissions.

The Paralana project, after satisfying the demand in the local off-grid market, would aim to satisfy the needs of the growing mining market, with the precinct project providing an ideal avenue to market. This would facilitate the large – independently estimated at around 1300MW of power production capability for 30 years – Paralana geothermal resource being monetised at the earliest possible time.

The precinct project is expected to be developed in a staged process with the first 300MW of power generation coming from a combination of gas and wind to ensure the product delivered to the market/customers has high availability (baseload), competitive price and a significant carbon benefit.

The second 300MW stage of the precinct project – while driven by market/customer needs – is expected to include the introduction of large-scale geothermal and solar, as both of these technologies come down their respective cost curves.

In addition, Petratherm’s Heliotherm research and development project, underway with the University of Adelaide, provides the future opportunity to fully integrate the various energy sources to reduce the capital cost of solar thermal by as much as 40 per cent and provide base-load operation.