Geothermal Energy Project

Project description

The Geothermal Energy Project was established in 2006 as part of Geoscience Australia's Onshore Energy Security Program (OESP). The project aims to improve the existing knowledge about the type and location of geothermal resources in Australia on a national scale. It also aims to encourage investment, exploration and exploitation of this energy source through provision of pre-competitive geoscience datasets relevant to geothermal energy. To achieve these objectives, the geothermal project will:

  • collect new heat flow data across Australia to better define and locate geothermal resources
  • complete modelling to help understand Australia’s hot rock systems
  • build a geothermal information system to effectively store new and existing heat flow data and make this data easily accessible to the public, industry and academia
  • use these new datasets to produce a revised estimate of Australia's total contained geothermal resource.

Geothermal Project Rationale

Current understanding of Australia's geothermal resources is based on limited data such as temperature measurements taken in 5722 petroleum and mineral boreholes across the country (Figure 1) which were used to generate a map of estimated crustal temperatures at a depth of five kilometres (Figure 2).

Heat flow data, which is the product of geothermal gradient and thermal conductivity, are rarer, with the most recently published compilation containing less than 200 heat flow data-points for Australia (Figure 3). Both temperature and heat flow measurements are unevenly distributed and, where no temperature or heat flow data exist, the available information has been interpolated over large areas to generate national-scale maps.

Other datasets relevant to exploration for geothermal energy include geophysical datasets such as gravity, magnetic, seismic, and magnetotelluric data, geochemical measurements, and geological maps.

Geothermal energy is an emerging industry in Australia and access to targeted geoscience information will lower the risk to explorers and investors as well as facilitate the exploitation of this low-emission energy source.

Geothermal Project Objectives

The Geothermal Energy project is using three linked approaches to better understand Australia’s prospectivity for geothermal energy:

Topic contact: Last updated: October 4, 2013