Snapshot of the technology
Geothermal energy uses either naturally occurring hot water (from a hot sedimentary aquifer) or generates super-heated water or steam by circulating fluid through hot rocks.
Once heat is extracted, power plants convert it to electricity. While the technology used by power plants is well established, the method of transporting the heat from deep underground to the surface varies significantly by location.
Areas in the USA, Iceland, Italy, New Zealand and Japan use significant amounts of geothermal energy. The majority of this generation is easily sourced from volcanic hot springs.
Australia has significant potential for geothermal energy generation due to an abundance of high-heat producing basement rocks buried beneath sediments. However, the technology for accessing this type of geothermal energy requires more development.
Status of the geothermal industry in Victoria
The Victorian Government continues to explore a range of new and emerging energy technologies, including geothermal energy. Exploration projects are already in motion, and the Gippsland Regional Aquatic Centre, due to be opened in early 2021, will include a geothermal energy source.
Geothermal energy is also used on a small scale by the Deep Blue Hotel Resort in Warrnambool, where hot mineral water from a 770 metre deep bore provides heating for the venue, domestic hot water and a pool and spa complex.
The future for geothermal
Nationally, there is work underway to develop large scale plants using both hot rock and hot aquifer resources. This work may inform the development of Victoria’s geothermal sector.
Further information about Victoria's geothermal resources is required to understand the technology’s potential to contribute to Victoria’s energy mix. However, exploration can be an expensive and challenging process because the resource is found deep underground. More work is also needed to determine how to consistently and efficiently transfer heat from hot dry rocks and hot aquifer rocks. If successful methods are demonstrated, geothermal could become a substantial source of base load (consistently generating) power from a renewable resource.
Page last updated: 05/03/20