‘The heat is there’: is there a future for geothermal energy in Australia?

From the Guardian, 4 November 2016:

In July 2010, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) took a $32m gamble on geothermal energy, investing in Australia’s first demonstration of geothermal electricity generation.

Six years later, the wells in South Australia’s Cooper Basin have been filled with concrete and abandoned, and the geothermal exploration company involved – Geodynamics Limited – has announced it is rebranding and pivoting to biogas, solar photovoltaic, battery storage and hybrid solutions.

Although geothermal energy is a mainstay of electricity generation in countries such as Iceland and El Salvador, the ancient, slumbering strata of Australia presents a more challenging landscape.

Since 2009 Arena has funded seven geothermal projects at a cost of more than $40m. Only one is still active.

In 2013 the agency established an international geothermal expert group to review Australia’s prospects for commercial geothermal energy generation. That group came to the conclusion that, despite more than $1bn worth of investment from the private sector and governments since the 1990s, the Australian geothermal energy sector faced significant technical hurdles, and the prospect of commercial viability before 2030 was slim. Read more.

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