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energy breakthrough

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    14 Dec, 2009 04:00 AM

    PLANS for Victoria's first geothermal power plant near Koroit were boosted yesterday with $7 million in Federal Government funding.

    The money will be used as part of a $17 million drilling project which is designed to test the capacity of a massive underground reservoir in the south-west.

    The company behind the project, Hot Rock Limited, eventually hopes to be able to power nearly half a million homes using hot water drawn from a depth of 3.5 kilometres. Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson announced yesterday's grant under the geothermal drilling program, which aims to help establish Australia as a world leader in geothermal technology development.

    Estimates show that if one per cent of Australia's geothermal energy was extracted, it could supply the nation's total annual energy requirements for 26,000 years.

    "This is a huge resource if we can get the technology breakthroughs necessary to deliver geothermal energy to the market cost-effectively and reliably," Mr Ferguson said.

    "The Australian Govern?ment recognises the need to pull through these emerging, clean-energy technologies as the world transitions to a low-carbon economy."

    Hot Rock managing director Dr Mark Elliott welcomed the grant. "It's fabulous news for us. It will enable us to get on with the job," he said.

    Dr Elliott said geothermal energy was the only renewable energy that could be produced 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    "It's something for the 21st century," he said.

    The Hot Rock project at Koroit covers a reservoir that extends across a 450-square-kilometre area.

    Water will be sourced from a depth of 3.5 kilometres at an average temperature of 160 degrees Celsius and is expected to provide 67,000 petajoules of energy, which is the equivalent of more than 11 billion barrels of oil.

    Dr Elliott said the company would hold discussions with land owners next week, with work on two test wells to the north of Koroit expected to begin early next year.

    The test wells will initially operate for 24 hours and measure temperature and flow rate, as well as detect rock types and structures with the use of an imaging tool.

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