In Australia, the first grid connected geothermal energy producer is expected to be operational in the late 2011. The project is entitled Panax Geothermal’s Penola. According to Bertus de Graaf, it is going to generate electricity at a lesser cost than conventional wind power. The expected capacity of the plant is 5.9 MW but plans to boost it further to 60 MW are already being considered.
The company does already have a geothermal power station at Birdsville but with a limited capacity of only 0.15 MW. The Penola project will be on a much larger scale and the cost to create the well will be around $15 millions. The federal Government’s geothermal drilling program is contributing a total of $7 million for the project.
Information about the region will be further investigated. Near to the township of Penola, it will be easy to integrate the electricity production to the electricity grid. Moreover, if the location appears to be an ideal one, the geothermal power station is expected to grow by as much as 10 times by 2014, according to Dr. de Graaf.
This project is fundamental according to Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson who approved the project. He said that in order to reach the target of having 20 percent of total energy supply from renewable energy sources by 2020, geothermal energy is essential. Now, only 8.2 percent of the energy in Australia is harnessed through renewable energy. Moreover, hydropower represents for most of it but expansion capacity is limited in the country.
There will be a need to focus on wind energy. However, to assure a sustainable supply of energy geothermal energy will play a fundamental role. The well at Salamander-q will be of a depth of around 3.5 km to 4 Km targeting a heat of around 150 to 200 degree Celsius.
The project will be fully owned by “Panax Geothermal”; however, latest reports suggest that they are searching to establish a venture with a partner.