The long-awaited awaited upgrade of Australia’s only operating geothermal plant – at the iconic outback town of Birdsville, looks like it will finally occur after the Queensland government allocated $15 million to the project in the latest budget.
According to local grid operator, Ergon Energy, the Birdsville Geothermal Power Station is the only utility operated geothermal power station in Australia. It uses fairly shallow geothermal heat, rather than the super-heated hot rocks lying 4-5kms underground proposed a few years ago.
The Birdsville plant is an 85kW net screw expander system, with the new plant expect to double the capacity to between 150kW and 200kW.
The biggest challenge for Ergon will be to integrate the new geothermal power station with the existing diesel power station. Tye aims to lift the share of renewable energy generation to 70 per cent on the outback, off grid town, and displace 80 per cent of the 500,000 litres of diesel currently consumed each year.
Ergon says the project will provide it with the knowledge and understanding of key issues associated with geothermal technical solutions for further possible application in isolated communities. Other towns have also expressed an interest in using geothermal energy.