THE race is on to develop Western Australia’s geothermal energy potential, following the historic first release of acreage for geothermal exploration.
The acreage stretches from south of Kalbarri down to Dunsborough. It goes inland about 250 km, finishing at a straight line slightly east of Cunderdin, Narrogin and Wagin and west of Mount Magnet.
It has been divided in 495 lots, each with an area of 320sq.km.
Explorers can bid for any lot within the acreage if they believe it has good potential for geothermal energy.
Resources and Energy Minister Francis Logan said the opening of geothermal acreage would signal the beginning of a dynamic clean energy industry in WA.
“We are fortunate in WA to have an abundance of natural energy resources that are in demand across the world,” Logan said.
“But we need to diversify our energy supply to keep up with the demand for domestic power, as well as to make a positive contribution to the environment.
“Geothermal power systems are basically closed systems without emissions. It is one of the cleanest forms of energy possible.”
The Minister said the acreage release followed the passage through State Parliament of amendments to the Petroleum Act that were proclaimed last week.
Bids for the exploration permits would close on April 24, with many of the lots being industrial project sites, particularly in the southern part of the release area.
“It is a great opportunity for geothermal explorers to secure prime exploration acreage in populated regions of WA,” Mr Logan said.
“The location close to already populated regions means explorers will have access to a nearby workforce, as well the power grid and transmission lines.”
A second acreage area, to be situated in the Carnarvon basin region, will be released later this year.Professor Klaus Regenauer-Lieb, a geothermal expert and Premier’s Research Fellow in Multi-scale Earth System Dynamics, welcomed the acreage release.
“WA has a unique opportunity to stake its claim in the international geothermal energy boom and to fill a niche in the renewable energy industry,” Professor Regenauer-Lieb said.
“Perth is built on sedimentary basins which provide exploitable heat right where it can be used, providing an ideal source of clean power for WA.”
Full details on how to apply for acreage are available from the Department of Industry and Resources website http://www.doir.wa.gov.au/mineralsandpetroleum/acreage_releases.asp