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  1. #1

    Default Geothermal energy anyone?

    I found this in the age acouple of weeks ago.

    I've done a google search on both Scope Energy and Geodynamics but can find much. Just wondering if any energy gurus (Doc J/Smurf) knew much about this style of energy production?

    THE $23 million spent by the Federal Government under the first tranche of its $100 million pledge to aid the renewable energy sector has highlighted innovations by local companies to cure Australia's greenhouse addiction.

    Critics have questioned the efficacy of the wind energy sector, with claims that irregular production makes it an inadequate substitute for coal-burning plants, but two companies funded under the Renewable Energy Development Initiative (REDI) have developed a no-emissions alternative for base-load generation.

    Geodynamics received $5 million to help develop its geothermal electricity plant near Innamincka in the north of South Australia.

    Scope Energy, another betting its future on geothermal energy, received $3.9 million to help with development. Its principal, Roger Massey-Greene, says the grant will help finance a drilling program of 500-metre deep holes to prove up its resource. Scope plans to open a 50-megawatt plant, but Mr Massey-Greene says he hopes to see this expand to 1000 MW in the longer term.

    Scope has a geographic advantage, he believes. Its site is near Millicent, in the south-east of South Australia, meaning it is close to transmission lines and the population centres of Melbourne and Adelaide. "We expect the cost to be very competitive with combined-cycle gas power plants," Mr Massey-Greene said.

    Scope's geothermal technology will tap hot water heated deep in the earth and run it through a heat exchanger to generate electricity. Mr Massey-Greene likens this process to a "fridge operating in reverse".

    Geodynamics' system will pump water through hot rocks and use the resulting steam to generate power.

    Scope's wells will be as deep as 4.5 kilometres. The technology that Scope is planning has been in use at a plant in Italy that has operated for 101 years, Mr Massey-Greene said.

    Stage one of the plant is expected to cost $4 million per megawatt to construct, compared with about $750,000 for a combined-cycle gas plant. "But we have no fuel costs," Mr Massey-Greene said.

    Wind energy, which also has no fuel expense, costs about $2 million per megawatt to construct. However, geothermal plants run at an output of about 98 per cent of rated capacity while wind generators typically produce only 35 per cent.

    Mr Massey-Green believes geothermal power has a great future. In New Zealand it provides 7 per cent of power needs and this could rise to as much as 15 per cent. Some in the market believe that Scope will float in the first half of 2006.

    Melbourne-based Katrix will use its $811,000 REDI grant to further develop its new fluid expander that may enable solar energy to be harnessed for electricity. Founder Attilio Demichelli says the expander, which does the job of a turbine, will allow solar thermal power to be adapted for small-scale use far more cheaply than photovoltaic systems.

    Katrix is developing units in which solar energy will heat refrigeration fluid that will run through an expander linked to a generator to produce power.

    The expander is cheaper than a miniature turbine to build and has a number of advantages, including its ability to take gas or steam at 22 atmospheres (22 times atmospheric pressure) back to one atmosphere in one step.

    Katrix projects that in the Californian market once government subsidies are factored in its system will return its cost to consumers in two to three years, compared with 15 years for photovoltaic systems.

    Mr Demichelli, a private investor, and inventor Yannis Tropalis have invested over $3 million in the technology in three years.

    Another REDI grant, of $290,000, has gone to V-Fuel, which is developing a vanadium bromide redox battery.

    The funding will help develop a prototype of a battery that its promoters hope will be efficient enough to use to store power from renewable energy plants. Efficient storage would enable technologies such as wind and solar to get over a bugbear unpredictability, because no one knows when the sun will shine or the wind will blow.

    V-Fuel principal Nick Kazacos says the grant is crucial to the company, which has raised only $400,000 up to now. V-Fuel has developed a five-kilowatt battery but is aiming to produce a 50-kilowatt prototype. That, he says, will cost $1 million, and further funding is being sought from another federal grant scheme.

    "There is a lot of interest in Europe," Mr Kazacos said. "We have had offers of collaboration from there."

    The battery was 85 per cent efficient, he said, and "we are aiming at having a $200-per-kilowatt production cost".

    The vanadium bromide process was developed at the University of NSW by Professor Maria Skyllas-Kazacos, who is a principal of V-Fuel.

    Origin Energy received $5 million to help develop its facilities for manufacturing solar cells using photovoltaic sliver technology. The technology will cut the cost of solar cells by reducing silicon usage by up to 90 per cent. Silicon is the most expensive part of a solar cell.

    Origin says it costs $11,000 to fit a house with a one-kilowatt unit. This would take 20 years or more to pay itself off. However, as power prices rise and production costs fall, this payback time will be cut.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Geothermal energy anyone?

    IMO geothermal has more potential than any other non-fossil / nuclear energy source simply because it's dispatchable (works when you want it to, at the output level you want it to) and reasonably low cost.

    Cost is the key. If they can get the total cost under $37 per megawatt hour (MWh) for electricity sent out then it is an outright winner. That price is a key one though - if it's $50 then that's just not viable (unless someone is willing to subsidise it). The required return on capital largely determines the total cost in the same way it does with hydro-electricity or brown coal - once it's built it costs virtually nothing to run.

    The ideal location is near existing transmission infrastructure for pilot through to medium scale (500 MW) plants. For a full scale (1000 MW+) plant there will need to be new lines built anyway so location isn't so critical within reason. Less than 1000 km from a capital city or major industrial load is certainly preferable, ideally closer.

    Short term on a small scale it doesn't really matter where they transmit the power to as long as it's connected to the main grid in Qld, NSW, Vic, Tas or SA. They are all connected together and part of the National Electricity Market (NEM). (The Tas - Vic interconnection is still undergoing tests at present - full operation sometime late Summer or during Autumn this year).

    Longer term there is a need for new baseload generation in all states BUT Queensland can build new black coal-fired plant at very competitive costs and government policy is moderately supportive. So it would make more sense to send the power somewhere else. SA has the highest production costs due to reliance on gas but there is a limit to how much additional energy it can absorbe in the medium term.

    Possible future coal liquefaction plants (to produce transport fuels from brown coal) are likely to generate vast amounts of by-product electricity in Victoria. One such plant has already been proposed and it seems a near certainty that one will be built at some point. This will continue the abundance of very low marginal cost baseload electricity in Victoria which limits the market there (though there is still a market for geothermal).

    If it were me then long term (5+ years) I would be looking to send a few hundred MW into SA and the rest into Vic. Up to 1000 MW into Vic shouldn't be a problem but beyond that it would be sensible to send the energy either directly into NSW or via an upgrade to the Vic to Snowy transmission lines in a northbound direction (presently 1100 MW northbound, 2000 MW southbound).

    The reason to target NSW is (1) more capacity is needed anyway and (2) NSW power stations have much higher marginal costs (several times higher) than those in Vic. Whilst the Vic market can accommodate some additional baseload supply, you wouldn't want to create a situation where you are competing directly with Vic brown coal-fired plant because the lines to NSW are running flat out and someone on the southern side has to shut down when demand is low. If that happens then prices will go very low. Hence the need for either an upgrade of Vic - Snowy transmission or transmission directly to NSW if more than, say, 1500 MW of geothermal is developed. That's not a short term issue though.

    So, in short it's a goer IMO as long as they can get the cost right. Short term build small plant anywhere. 1000 MW scale means some must be transmitted to Qld, NSW or Vic since SA can't take that much (technically it could but not economically). Beyond 1500 MW total, need to get some of the power into NSW via upgraded or new lines. Target SA first since prices are highest there due to reliance on gas. Qld the lowest priority due to competition from cheap coal. Tas viable only if geothermal resource found there and then only up to a few hundred MW - no point displacing existing (near zero cost) hydro.

    Outside of the NEM it would be ideal to find a suitable geothermal resource capable of supplying to the South-West Interconnected System (SWIS) in WA. Production costs are relatively high there (due partly to scale issues and partly due to high reliance on gas). Several hundred MW could fit quite nicely into that market but, since it's not in the NEM, the actual sale of the power is a little more complex though it ought to be possible.

    If Australia is going to reduce greenhosue gas emissions then realistically new large low emissions baseload power plants have a big role to play. The question is whether they are geothermal, nuclear or coal-fired with geosequestration of emissions. Costs will play a big role and from the info that's available geothermal looks very promising.

  3. #3

    Smile Re: Geothermal energy anyone?

    Hi folks,

    Just to add a little more about the technology ..... a pilot
    power plant has been operating in Las Palmos(?), New Mexico
    for the past 20+ years, using the same techniques being
    employed by GDY.

    Australia is considered ideal for further development of this
    type of renewable energy, as we have very stable geology,
    for the most part.

    Clean and green .....

    ..... but, taking it to the coalfields around Newcastle will
    surely have its detractors ..... lol

    have a great weekend all


  4. #4

    Default Re: Geothermal energy anyone?

    I'm posting this only to try and give people a "feel" for the measurements used in this industry and how significant a given size of power plant is. This post contains no stock-specific information but is relevant background info for anyone investing in electricity generation regardless of the technology used.

    Watt is the basic measurement of electrical energy. A kilowatt (kW) is 1000 watts, a megawatt (MW) is 1,000,000 watts.

    To put this into perspective. If you have a CRT (big box type) computer monitor then it uses somewhere around 100 watts. Your express boiling kettle uses 2400 watts or 2.4 kilowatts. An electric oven plus grill and 4 hotplates with everything running full blast uses somewhere around 11,000 watts. A hairdryer is around 1200 watts. Your VCR or DVD player is somewhere around 15 watts and your clock radio about 5 watts.

    On the other end is the power stations. At 3PM (standard time - 4PM daylight savings time (eastern states time)) this afternoon the combined electricity demand of the NEM states (Qld, NSW (including ACT), Vic, Tas and SA was 26446 MW or 26,446,000,000 Watts. Right now at nearly half past midnight (daylight savings time) it's down to 21208 MW.

    If you live in Adelaide then Torrens Island "A" power station produces a maximum of 480 MW, Torrens Island "B" is 800 MW, Quarantine is just under 100 MW, Pelican Point about 480 MW, Dry Creek 156 MW and the Lonsdale plant about 20 MW.

    If you're in Melbourne then you might be familiar with the big chimney stack at Newport - that's Newport power station and it produces 500 MW.

    In Tasmania the very often photographed by tourists Tarraleah power station produces 90 MW whilst the Tungatinah plant directly opposite produces 125 MW. In the South-West Gordon PS produces 432 MW and the state total is about 2600 MW.

    In Queensland the Swanbank PS near Ipswich produces 480 MW from coal and 350 MW from gas. A 408 MW coal-fired plant and two small oil-fired gas turbines historically operated there too.

    There aren't any major operating plants near Sydney to mention as they have all closed long ago.

    Of the really big plants in Australia, Bayswater and Eraring (NSW) were both built to produce 2640 MW each and have been upgraded slightly since then, the Loy Yang power stations in Vic produce 3160 MW from coal and about 300 MW from a gas-fired plant at the same site. The Snowy Hydro scheme can produce around 3740 MW (varies slightly depending on water level) from 7 power stations. Gladstone in Qld generates 1680 MW.

    In WA the Muja plant produces 1040 MW and the Collie plant near it 330 MW. Kwinana produces about 900 MW.

    As I said, just trying to give people a general "feel" for this industry and the significance, or otherwise, of a plant of a given size.

    P.S. I wrote this from memory without checking the figures apart from present demand lelvel so appologies if any errors but should be right.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Port Adelaide

    Default Re: Coal - where to now?

    You seem to know your stuff!

    Any thought's on GDY?

    Is geothermal energy viable in your opinion?

    Sorry to go off topic slightly.


  6. #6
    PlanYourTrade > TradeYourPlan RichKid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004

    Default Re: Coal - where to now?

    Quote Originally Posted by BentRod
    You seem to know your stuff!

    Any thought's on GDY?

    Is geothermal energy viable in your opinion?

    Sorry to go off topic slightly.

    Hi BentRod,
    Smurf has discussed it in this thread, so I've merged your post from the coal thread to make it easier to follow the discussion. There is also a separate thread on GDY (Geodynamics)- questions on the stock and its technology should be posted there if at all possible. Hope this thread is useful to you. btw, we have a search tool which can be used to find almost anything on ASF, also has advanced search functions.

    My posts are not recommendations (even when I rave about something). Always rely on your own research & judgement.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Geothermal Energy anyone?

    GDY seems to have retraced a bit. I noticed on my last electricity bill that Origin Energy have invested in GDY


    could be worth a look in the near future

  8. #8

    Default Re: Geothermal Energy anyone?

    You have a few problems when you need to go to market to fund expenses.

    ORG dont seem to be too keen to fund the drill bit recovery costs, but the market keeps ponying up through placements.

    It will happen - but gawd knows how much paper will be on issue when it does!

  9. #9
    3 veiws of a secret
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Default Re: Geothermal Energy anyone?

    Well the good news is..........

    L I M I T E D ABN 55 095 006 090
    TEL +61 7 3721 7500 FAX +61 7 3721 7599 EMAIL info@geodynamics.com.au
    Habanero #2 Well Suspension
    Geodynamics announces that the drill stem has been successfully parted near the
    bottom of the casing using a severing tool at a depth of 3,765m (12,350ft) or 436m
    (1,430ft) above the stuck drill bit. This is considerably higher than aimed for, a direct
    consequence of restriction in the drill stem which prevented the setting of the
    explosive charge at a greater depth.
    On the basis of the slow and costly progress made to date and taking into account
    the remaining risks involved in completing the side track with the current on site
    equipment, it was reluctantly decided to stop the drilling operations. Geodynamics
    has further decided to restore the connection with the heat exchanger using a
    conventional drilling rig. Geodynamics has recently obtained an option on a suitable
    rig which will become available in the last quarter of this calendar year. One option
    open to the Company is to drill another side track from near the bottom of the casing
    in Habanero #2, starting drilling at a depth of approximately 3,750m (12,300ft). A
    similar side track (Habanero #2, side track 1) was previously drilled in 23 days. Once
    the new hole approaches the depth of the underground heat exchanger, specialised
    equipment (snub assist unit) will be used to avoid damaging the underground heat
    exchanger with drilling mud.
    The decision to stop the current snub drilling operations is a major set-back for all
    stakeholders involved as it will delay the proof of economic heat extraction from the
    extensive geothermal resources underlying the Cooper Basin. However, it should
    only be regarded as a delay and not as a threat to the viability of the geothermal
    project. All drilling engineering experts consulted by the Company to date agree that
    the drilling problems encountered will be overcome and that experience has shown
    that drilling costs can be significantly reduced over time.
    As a pioneer, the company has learned many valuable lessons on drilling fully under
    balanced in the high pressure/temperature environment of the target hot granites.
    This experience will be of great value for the future development of the Cooper Basin
    HFR geothermal project. The underground heat exchanger we have developed
    remains intact with all evidence pointing to success once the connection with it is
    The Company will now focus on resuming drilling with a new rig set up as soon as
    For further information please check our website (www.geodynamics.com.au) or
    contact Dr Bertus de Graaf on 07 3721 7500.
    Bertus de Graaf
    Managing Director

  10. #10
    nioka's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Northern N.S.W.

    Default Re: Geothermal Energy anyone?

    Recently I noticed an announcement by LKO and VPE that they had each taken a 33% share in a new company called Green Earth Energy Ltd
    . This company is investigating leases in Victoria associated the development of geothermal drilling. Does anyone know any more on this. Out of interest I have bought a few shares in both. ( A long term speccie and definitely not one for a day trader)

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