The $50million geothermal drilling program, a key election promise of the Australian Government, will be funded earlier than expected, according to the Minister for Resources and Energy the Hon Martin Ferguson.
Up to $20 million dollars will be sourced from the Energy Innovation Fund in the short term to take advantage of a window of opportunity in late 2008 for the geothermal industry to access drilling rigs and start proof-of-concept drilling.
“This funding will help bring large-scale geothermal energy a step closer to reality for Australia,” Hon. Ferguson said.
“Following consultation with industry it has become clear there are a number of very promising geothermal projects now ready to move to the proof-of-concept drilling stage and this is very good news.
“With drilling assistance from the Australian Government, it is hoped these projects will advance and become part of the solution to climate change and Australia’s long-term energy security.
“I am pleased to be able to respond to the industry’s needs with the support of the Prime Minister, who shares my view that development of geothermal technology should not be unduly delayed.
“This decision reflects the Government’s commitment to renewable energy as a major part of the policy response to climate change and the energy security challenges facing our nation.
“The geothermal drilling program will be a competitive grants program for proof-of-concept projects with the potential to develop geothermal resources for either electricity production or direct-use heat.
“Australian companies are world leaders in ‘hot rock’ geothermal technology and this funding will help nurture the technology so it can make a greater contribution as a technology and zero-emission energy provider.
“My Department is in consultation with stakeholders to finalise the program design and guidelines, with the aim of calling for applications in the next few months.
“A Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism Geothermal Energy Committee will be established to assess applications and Geoscience Australia will provide specialist advice on technical issues.”
Australian Federal Government