Geothermal energy leader confirms vast green power reserves

Australia is sitting on vast reserves of green geothermal energy sufficient enough to replace carbon emissions-intensive coal and gas power 68 times over(1), Australian geothermal energy consultancy HDR ( says.

Key points(2):

  • The data, released today, is the result of a new Global Protocol developed in partnership with internet giant Google and a team of global geothermal experts led by HDR to estimate and map the planet’s enhanced geothermal systems (EGS).
  • The rocks beneath Australia (within 5km) store enough heat to theoretically provide 85 million megawatts (MW), or all of Australia’s current electricity demand for 50,000 years;
  • If just 2% of the estimated heat energy within 5km is recovered with existing technologies, there is potentially 395,000 MW power available – almost 10 times that of coal or gas (40,647 MW current installed generation capacity in Australia (3))

“This is clean, renewable energy that is realistically accessible today with existing drilling and power conversion technologies,” HDR’s Managing Director Graeme Beardsmore said.

“Not only that, EGS has the potential to provide base load power; it is one of the most abundant sources of renewable energy available and is more than sufficient to replace current coal and gas power supply.

“Essentially, EGS presents us with a compelling solution to tackling climate change as well as addressing future energy supply issues. Now that Australia has a carbon pricing mechanism, we have the means to work on making clean EGS power generation a reality.”

The HDR-led Protocol development has resulted in the recent release of the first EGS map for the USA, and a preliminary heat flow map for Australia. Australia is also home to the largest EGS project in the world – a project working towards a 25MW pilot plant in South Australia’s Cooper Basin.

The Protocol, endorsed by the International Energy Agency earlier this year, sets the global standard for determining how the electrical power potential of EGS is estimated in a consistent way around the globe.

IEA-GIA(4) Chairman Chris Bromley said the organisation had long recognised the potentially huge contribution that EGS could make as a global energy resource, and included it as a foundation investigation topic at the IEA-GIA’s creation in 1997.

The Protocol provides governments and industry with the means to begin factoring EGS into the energy mix and will also provide greater certainty and confidence for investors based on a deeper knowledge pool.

“Investment in EGS - and conventional geothermal energy – has until now been a difficult proposition because of the lack of information available in order for investors to do the necessary risk assessments,” Dr Beardsmore said.

“The megawatt statistics and maps generated under the Global Protocol now provide a tangible knowledge base for proper investment and energy policy development.

“We know EGS works technically, and we know it can work commercially. The objective now is to make EGS a major part of the future energy mix in Australia and around the world.”

Links: – Preliminary Australian heat flow map (Temperature at Depth)

Graeme Beardsmore is available for comment
Media Contact: Simon Mossman on 0451 660 980

About Hot Dry Rocks
HDR is Australia’s leading geothermal exploration and development consultancy, dedicated to locating and defining geothermal resources suitable to exploit for energy generation. Through its in-house expertise and strategic global partnerships and networks, HDR offers a full range of services and advice to companies and organisations involved in the exploration and development of geothermal resources.

(1) 2.8 million megawatts (MW) within 5km of the earth’s surface, if 14% of the estimated energy is recovered under existing drilling and power conversion technology over 30 years.
(2) All figures cited do not constitute a ‘resource’ as defined by the Australian Code for Reporting Geothermal Reserves and Resources and should not be described as a ‘resource’.
(3) Source: ABARE
(4) IEA Geothermal Implementing Agreement (GIA), also known as the Implementing Agreement for a Cooperative Programme on Geothermal Energy Research and Technology, functions within a framework created by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Views, findings and publications of IEA-GIA do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or of all its individual member countries.

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