Guest essay by Eric Worrall
There’s an enormous geothermal pool under the Latrobe Valley that can give us cheap, clean energy
December 2, 2021 12.48pm AEDT
Senior Fellow in Crustal Heat Flow, The University of Melbourne
About 650 metres beneath the Latrobe Valley, the heart of Victoria’s coal country, lies a little-known, naturally hot 65℃ pool of water in an enormous aquifer.
This aquifer is a source of geothermal energy – a renewable source of heat or electricity that is, so far, being used to heat an aquatic centre in the town of Traralgon. They chose it – over natural gas, coal-fired power or even emissions-free solar and wind – because geothermal energy is now the cheapest option for heating.
The hot aquifer was first reported as long ago as 1962, when government geologist J.J. Jenkin noted many “occurrences of high temperature waters in East Gippsland”. We now know the hot water underlies about 6,000 square kilometres of Gippsland, from Morwell in the west to Lakes Entrance in the east, and holds the equivalent of A$30 billion of heat at today’s natural gas price.
But with natural gas flowing from Bass Strait, and vast reserves of brown coal in the Latrobe Valley, there has been little incentive to develop alternative energy sources. With the coal era now drawing to a close, it’s time we made better use of this vast, clean source of energy to help cut national emissions and ease the energy transition.
…Read more: https://theconversation.com/theres-an-enormous-geothermal-pool-under-the-latrobe-valley-that-can-give-us-cheap-clean-energy-166829
So what went wrong with Geodynamics?
Before the closure, the company had managed to extract super-heated water from five kilometres below the earth’s surface and use it to generate small amounts of electricity.
“The technology worked but unfortunately the cost of implementing the technology and also the cost of delivering the electricity that was produced to a market was just greater than the revenue stream that we could create,” Geodynamics chief executive Chris Murray said.
Professor Martin Hand ran the South Australian Centre for Geothermal Energy Research at the University of Adelaide.
“I think it was talked up too much — it’s a very nice concept on the front page of a newspaper, looks very easy to do, and I think it was over-spruiked,” he said.
…Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-30/geothermal-power-plant-closes-deemed-not-financially-viable/7798962
I’m happy for people to try these things on their own dime. Professor Beardsmore from his LinkedIn profile appears to suggest he has developed better predictive drilling models, which might help him find his hot water with fewer test drills. If this gives him the edge that Geodynamics lacked, good luck to him. But given the track record of failure of such ventures, he’ll likely have a lot of convincing to do, to secure his funding.