Scientific testing at a Fraser Coast property may help unlock a significant new renewable energy resource for the region and Queensland. The property near Gundiah, 65 km south-west of Maryborough, will be the first location tested in Queensland’s search for new geothermal "hot rock" resources nearer to coastal areas.
Contractors recently began drilling a single test hole at the property today to collect temperature and thermal conductivity data from geological formations to a depth of 320 metres.
Once drilling is completed, the hole will be left undisturbed for 6-8 weeks to allow temperatures to stabilise. Then a probe will be progressively lowered down the hole to take temperature readings at one metre intervals.
Geoscientific data collected will help identify whether potentially-viable geothermal hot rock resources are present in the Maryborough Basin South. No hydraulic fracturing or toxic chemicals will be used in the drilling process and there will be no impact on water aquifers.
Electric fencing is in place to keep livestock away from the test hole and the site will be fully rehabilitated.
The Fraser Coast property will be the first of 12 targeted locations tested throughout Queensland during Phase 1 of the State Government’s Coastal Geothermal Energy Initiative drilling program.
Geothermal has the potential to produce more base-load energy than any other renewable energy source.
Queensland’s known geothermal hot rock resources are generally found in remote areas of the State; far from power transmission infrastructure and major population centres where electricity demand is increasing.
This remoteness adds considerably to the potential cost of constructing electricity transmission lines linking future geothermal energy plants with Queensland communities and industry. It is thus important to identify areas with potential for geothermal hot rocks to exist closer to the coast where the state’s main markets for geothermal energy and transmission infrastructure exist.
The geothermal drilling program is being undertaken by Gerald Spaulding Drillers for the government’s Geological Survey of Queensland and the Office of Clean Energy. The drilling program will gradually work its way northwards to other test sites; including the most northern sites after the traditional ‘wet season’ has ended.
The new geothermal data sets will be progressively available following completion of the drilling program from mid 2011 to early 2012.
As well as the prospect of discovering new potential sources of ‘hot rocks’ along the coast, this initiative will provide pre-competitive data sets for industry to identify potential targets for geothermal energy exploration in the state.
This will reduce exploration risks and will assist explorers to search for and develop this source of clean energy in Queensland.
Information about the Coastal Geothermal Energy Initiative is available on the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation website at www.dme.qld.gov.au/mines/coastal.cfm