Yesterday Google announced that it was getting into the geothermal power game, investing over $10 million into researching Enhanced Geothermal Systems. It is estimated that using this technology, just 2% of the heat below North America would easily supply all of the United States’ current energy needs.
Now, a new report shows similarly large geothermal potential in Australia: An Australian government scientist told Reuters that 1% of the nation’s untapped geothermal potential could create enough energy for 26,000 years.
Obviously that’s easier said that done. A new report from the Australian Geothermal Energy Association outlines what can be done to make geothermal a greater part of Australia’s energy future:
2200 MW of Geothermal Power by 2020
The AGEA report says that under current government policy up to 2200 megawatts of geothermal power could be developed by 2020, adding that this would represent 40% of the government’s current renewable energy target of 45,000 GWh (20% of total electric demand). It would take A$ 12-billion (US$ 10.45 billion) to develop this amount of installed capacity.
AGEA also estimated electricity costs for geothermal power at various stages of development, noting that geothermal energy is one of the lowest priced forms of renewable energy. For demonstration-sized plants of 10-50 MW the cost of generating electricity is expected to be $90-135/MWh. While for large-scale plants greater than 300 MW, the cost is expected to be $80-110/MWh.