Geothermal energy

Geothermal energy is considered to be a renewable, clean energy. It is already being harnessed in many places around the world. The Geological Survey of Western Australia (GSWA) has been mapping the sedimentary basins of Western Australia in the search for viable energy sources. Geothermal energy refers to energy obtained from a green and renewable source, conventionally from hot water and extracted from hot rocks. Hot-rock or an enhanced geothermal system (EGS) can be used to generate electricity and heat energy for direct use

Current drilling technology limits economic development of geothermal resources to a maximum depth of about five kilometres. The temperature at this depth varies across the Australian continent due to a range of geologic factors, such as high-heat generating basement rocks. The heat is derived from radiogenic elements in the rocks (particularly granite) and is trapped by layers of sediment that act as blankets.

The largest EGS project in the world is a 25 megawatts (MW) demonstration plant currently being developed in the Cooper Basin in South Australia. The Basin has the potential to generate 5000 to 10 000 MW.

Significant hot-rock resources in Western Australia have been identified in the Canning, Carnarvon and Perth Basins, where the depth to 200 degrees Celsius (ºC) is less than 5 kilometres (see image). Hot-water as a direct energy source has been used in many swimming pools of Perth. GSWA has conducted several studies to assess the potential for geothermal energy resources and development within the Canning, Carnarvon, Perth and Officer Basins. to view GSWA publications search eBookshop.

Geothermal energy exploration in Western Australia was legislated in 2008. Since then several companies have been exploring for geothermal energy, mostly in the Perth Basin.

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