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geodynamics in the press

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    Penelope Debelle
    August 7, 2003

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    Searing heat from the core of the earth may be harnessed in South Australia to become a potentially massive, clean energy source.

    In South Australia's remote Cooper Basin, a source of natural gas for more than 30 years, the hottest and deepest well drilled in Australia has been sunk 4.5 kms into the earth's surface, where temperatures reach 270C.

    "This is the hottest spot on earth outside volcanoes," says Bertus de Graaf, managing director of Geodynamics, the publicly listed company that hopes to turn energy from the earth's core into commercial power.

    The $2.7 billion South Australian retailer Origin Energy announced yesterday it would become a cornerstone investor in the project, taking about a 20 per cent share of the company and joining Metasource, a wholly owned subsidiary of Woodside Petroleum, as a major investor.

    While countries like Italy, Iceland, New Zealand and Japan have long generated power from hot rocks using natural steam, geothermal power can also be manufactured by pumping water over superheated rocks beneath the surface, turning it to steam.



    Dr de Graaf said the technology had been experimented with for 20 years, in the US, then the UK. "These were both 10-year projects and millions were spent. That knowledge was then applied in France with great success."

    He said South Australia created a new resources class in 2001 for geothermal hot rocks. Before, "you could not secure the rights to the heat, so there was no justification for spending this money to examine the economics of it."

    Finance and Administration Minister Senator Nick Minchin, who visited the Habanero well at Innamincka yesterday, said there was great potential for a renewable energy source. "One cubic kilometre of hot granite at 250C has stored energy equivalent to 40 million barrels of oil."
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