Geothermal: Is this the right renewable for our region?

ABOVE : Geogen’s geothermal processing site in Winton, Queensland. Photo Contributed

Susanna Freymark

West Australian energy company Geogen is seeking a geothermal energy extraction site in the area around Casino, Kyogle, Bonalbo and Mallanganee.

Geogen chief executive Adam refused to let me publish his surname.

He claimed geothermal was the “greenest energy source we can use”.

He made it clear geothermal is not CSG and not fracking.

Geogen is looking for rock underground at 100-120 degrees about 2.5km beneath the ground, he said.

“We take water from there and it goes through a process that takes heat from it and it goes back down.”

It does not produce steam during the process of removing heat from the water.

“It’s like a water bore, you drill down to the water,” he said.

“We’re looking for hot ground.”

The company set up a similar project in Winton, Queensland.

Geothermal is not expensive once it is up and running, but it isn’t a cheap development, he said.

The setup is expensive and can take up to four years but the costs of collecting the energy is less expensive than replacing wind turbine parts or solar panels, he said.

Most people have heard about single and double flash geothermal energy which are dependent on being located in areas such as the Ring of Fire where there is volcanic activity and tectonic plate movement, he said.

The approach Geogen is taking differs in that it only needs go about 2km into the earth and the water is returned once the heat is taken out.

Energy from the plant will be supplied to local people and to the national grid.

He said they aimed to locate the project at an industrial site.

The bonus for the area, according to him is that the region will have a power facility for 40 years.

It will be green renewable energy available 24 hours a day.

The equipment to extract heat from the groundwater will be in a building in its own compound.

We will make sure it is unobtrusive, he said.

The company is looking at other areas for a geothermal site including Newcastle and Sydney.

Dr Douglas Tait from Southern Cross University is a specialist in groundwater resources.

I support renewables, he said.

“Any form of development will have impacts. There is no holy grail. All energy comes at a cost,” he said.

But Dr Tait supported moving to a model where “we are less dependent on fossil fuels.”

Any geothermal projects needed to consider the change in land use, discharges of water and soil subsidence.

“In our region, the floodplain region, groundwater is connected to the creek system,” Dr Tait said.

“The shallow areas are often used for agriculture and the aquifers are tapped into by farmers.”

Shallow drilling can create surface discharge and result in soil subsidence.

“You need to be aware of these issues. It’s not good or bad but you must make sure the science is solid,” Dr Tait said.

Geogen’s next step – in about six months – will be consulting with the community.

3 thoughts on “Geothermal: Is this the right renewable for our region?”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Welcome to Richmond Valley and Kyogle news

Scroll to Top
Like an alert when we add a story? Yes please No thanks