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Geothermal energy planned for 2012

Local company Hot Rock Limited is preparing developments for its first geothermal exploration power station next year, in a quest to provide a cleaner, greener energy source for Australia by 2012.

Hot Rock is the largest single holder of geothermal exploration permits in Australia, and its four permits in the area have a total area of 18,294 square kilometres and extend for approximately 270 kilometres along the South Australian coastline and inland.

Locations within Hot Rock’s reach include Portland, Hamilton, Warrnambool, Terang and Colac, some of which have hot springs related to the Otway Basin Geothermal Province.

Geothermal energy is a process of generating clean electricity from naturally-occuring hot water under the ground. The heated water is pumped from below the surface via a network of production wells, and its heat is extracted to produce electricity. Cool water is then pumped back into the hole for use next time.

An independent review by engineering consultants, SKM, showed that the area in which Hot Rock holds permits has the scope to generate up to 1,750MWe or approximately 35 per cent of Victoria’s electricity needs.

Fully developing this area could position Victoria as one of the cleanest states of Australia for electricity generation, says Hot Rock.

The four permit areas held by Hot Rock have already been explored for oil and gas, with over 180 wells drilled. Four of these wells have been shown to offer geothermal resources with water heated to 145 degrees C at depths of 2,400 to 3,600 metres below the ground, which is relatively shallow, according to the company.

Hot Rock is in discussions with electricity generation and retail companies on a joint venture power development in the Koroit Project, which is a 250 square kilometre area within the permitted locations, within the vicinity of two previous drill holes that encountered hot water.

“The [joint venture] comprises an initial proof on concept phase involving the drilling and testing of two wells followed by development of a 50MW power plant,” the company said in a recent quarterly report to the Australian Stock Exchange.

“A number of subsequent power plants are expected to be developed with a block size of 50MW, up to a total development capacity presently estimated at 200MW.”

The development program could be concluded in approximately three years, from mid-2009.

More information about Hot Rock Limited can be found at

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