The University of Adelaide has begun a 1.62 million project to map Australia’s geothermal resources.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency this week committed $450,000 in funding for the project, which will deliver maps of the distribution, orientation and connectivity of fractures in four of Australia’s key sedimentary basins.
It will address one of the key issues currently preventing the development of geothermal energy in Australia – an understanding of the structural permeability of regions which informs drilling practices.
In announcing the funding, ARENA said that geothermal projects in Australia face challenges due to the cost and risk of drilling deep underground, in contrast to NZ where geothermal energy is a major factor in the energy mix, and geothermal heat is closer to the surface.
The aim of the project is to deliver a “toolkit” to developers predict “permeability pathways” in critical Australian sedentary basins.
Despite the challenges, geothermal energy has – in theory – great potential in Australia.
According to previous studies, around 1 per cent of Australia’s geothermal energy could supply the nation’s total energy requirements for 26,000 years, government estimates reveal.
The Centre for International Economics has reported that Australia has sufficient geothermal potential to generate electricity for 450 years.