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Paving the way for clean geothermal energy production

Queensland Parliament has passed new legislation which will encourage and facilitate the safe production of clean, renewable geothermal energy for electricity generation in the State.

Mines and Energy Minister Stephen Robertson said today this is an exciting development for Queensland’s energy sector as the State moves towards a cleaner energy future.

Geothermal energy draws energy from hot rocks and water below the earth’s surface and has the potential to produce power virtually free of carbon dioxide emissions.

A key focus of the Geothermal Energy legislation will be to promote competition in the geothermal energy field and to ensure Queensland remains an attractive place for renewable energy companies to do business.

Geothermal Production Leases provided for under the legislation will allow companies to commence large scale production of geothermal energy, providing a real alternative to fossil-fuel based electricity supply for Queenslanders.

The new framework will regulate exploration and large scale production of geothermal energy in a balanced way that encourages the industry while ensuring the Queensland Government is the chief steward of this resource.

It will also promote responsible land and resource management, and provide for constructive consultation and compensation arrangements to owners and occupiers of affected land. It is not intended that small scale domestic operations will be regulated by the legislation.

Queensland already operates Australia’s only geothermal power station at Birdsville and the Government is investing up to $4.3 million to upgrade the existing 80 kW power station there.

The state government is also investing $15 million over five years in the Queensland Geothermal Centre of Excellence, based at the University of Queensland. The Centre of Excellence is undertaking geothermal research in areas including geothermal reservoir exploration, characterisation and management, and electricity transmission and power network modelling.

Queensland is well placed to capitalise on geothermal energy with the latest research showing the state are home to most of Australia’s hot rocks – potentially some of the hottest in the world.

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