Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Hot rock firms win funding injection

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 7/11/2009 Page: 9

TWO South Australian hot rocks companies have won the lion's share of $235 million in federal funding, potentially resulting in a jobs bonanza. In a major vote of confidence in the commercial viability of alternative energies such as wind, wave and geothermal, four grants totalling $235 million were awarded to alternative energy projects. GeoDynamics Ltd received the biggest grant of $90 million to develop its Cooper Basin power plant into what the Federal Government described as "the world's first multi-well hot fractured rock power project".

The project is slated to produce several thousand MWs of electricity once fully operational. Another company, MNGI Pty Ltd, was awarded nearly $63 million for its Paralana power plant located close to the Beverley Uranium Mine. That project uses a "heat exchanger within insulator" method developed by one of its joint ventures, Petratherm, and already has a memorandum of understanding with Beverley to supply its energy needs. Petratherm managing director Terry Kallis said the money was granted on a "one for two basis", meaning the private investors would put in twice as much again to get the plant producing 30 MW of power by

Petratherm employs about 15 people but at full construction phase, this is likely to increase to about 150. During the operational phase, it is expected to support 50 or 60 jobs. Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said the Government was serious about developing alternatives to fossil fuels. "These projects will diversify Australia's energy supply and help deliver the Government's expanded renewable energy target of 20% by 2020," he said. Geothermal energy involves using intense heat stored deep underground in rock layers to generate electricity.