Cooper Basin geothermal energy facts
Cooper Basin geothermal
barrels of crude oil
engineers who recently saw super heated water explode into a geyser of steam
out of the red dirt of South Australia’s remote Cooper Basin said it screamed
so loudly their ears hurt.
weird sight, a plume of steam shooting briefly into the sky in the vastness
of an empty desert, accompanied by maybe the loudest sound ever heard across
its mirage-rippled wastelands, may have announced breakthrough in clean,
A big step closer
a big step closer to the goal of Australian firm Geodynamics Limited, to
tap into the natural heat stored in vast beds of underground granite and
use it to generate electricity.
says there is enough usable heat energy in a 1000 square kilometre section
of the rocks to replace 50 billion barrels of crude oil â€” or around 12 times
as much oil as there is in the country’s largest proven oil reserves, in
the north west shelf off the tip of Western Australia.
is the project can help solve the dual crises of shrinking oil supplies
and greenhouse gas emissions. Dr Bertus de Graaf, Geodynamics managing director,
says the lode of hot rocks under the Cooper Basin is the largest resource
of its type known in the world, other than beneath volcanoes.
rocks) are a reef of granite trapped in the upper crust that makes up the
continental plate in which small amounts of radioactive elements including
thorium and potassium have been releasing heat as they decay over millions
of years,’ he said.
energy has been used in Iceland and New Zealand where steam from hot springs
are used to drive the turbines in power stations. But hot dry rock or HDR
geothermal energy has proven far harder to tame, even though the principle
is simple and has been the subject of research in dozens of countries for
years of drilling holes up to 4.4 kilometres deep Geodynamics is now able
to pump cold water down into the granite reef where it becomes superheated
and blasts its way back to the surface through a return shaft.
to the engineers, about 75 per cent of the heat in the hot water was lost
as predicted when it exploded into steam out of the exit valve.
energy was captured by a heat exchanger to satisfy the needs of a future
next step is to hook up a pilot power station and prove that part of power
generated can be used to drive the water back into the subterranean heat
Dr de Graaf
believes it will cost only four Australian cents per kilowatt per hour to
produce electricity from the Cooper Basin site, or about the same as the
cost in Australia for getting the energy from coal and natural gas.
If the pilot
plant works as planned in the next year or so the company will sink 16 injection
and 21 extraction holes into a seven square kilometre section of the lode
to build a non-polluting power station generating 275 megawatts.
To put this
in perspective, the state of South Australia consumes 1500 Megawatts in the
cool months and tries to draw 3000 Megawatts each scorching summer, when the
only large city, Adelaide, turns its air-conditioning up to maximum.
widespread `brown outs’ because the state’s generating capacity is about 2700
has already identified other comparatively easy-to-tap hot rock reefs in
New South Wales, ironically beneath the richest coal fields in Australia,
and in parts of Queensland and believes many more lodes await discovery in
Australia and other parts of the world.
Dr de Graaf
says HDR is the only form of non polluting renewable energy capable of providing
the power required by heavy industry and major cities, as it doesn’t suffer
from the variability and minuscule efficiency of solar and wind power.
If the screaming
geyser of the Cooper Basin gives up its energy as cost effectively as its
backers believe, they stand to become very rich as well as very green power
Source : www.hindu.com