Good news on geothermal energy
Geothermal energy is one of those alternative sources that always seems to be waiting in the wings. The basic idea is to exploit the heat (derived from radioactive decay) of granite rocks about 4k below the earth’s surface to superheat water which can then be used to drive a turbine at ground level. It’s a closed cycle so the water can be used over and over. Sounds good, but so have lots of other alternatives to carbon-based fuels that have so far failed to deliver on a large scale.
But now, it seems to be a lot closer The test run by Geodynamics produced 10MW of power and they are talking about a 250 MW plant, with orders already in place from Origin Energy. The Cooper Basin appears to have gigawatts of potential capacity, and large areas of the country are unexplored.
Of course, the big issue is cost. It’s hoped that power can be delivered at 4c/KwH, but it seems likely there will be some overruns. Nevertheless, if the cost of C02 emissions is taken into account, geothermal will very probably be a winner. Once again, it’s evident that, unless we ratify Kyoto now, we are in danger of missing the boat. Australia has a huge endowment of this resource, and a good start on the technology, but no doubt it can be found elsewhere and will be.