Aspiring geothermal energy developer Greenearth Energy may have to abandon its planned 12MW geothermal energy project for the industrial city of Geelong after the Victorian government withdrew its $25 million grant.
It is the second blow in as many months for Greenearth, which announced in August that an approach for funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) had been rejected. It says it is now reviewing its next steps.
The Geelong Geothermal Power Project was to have been located about 11km North West of Anglesea, on the Holcim Ltd Moriac quarry site. The project has three planned stages; drilling to prove the local geothermal resource, constructing a 12 MW demonstration plant, and if the demonstration project amounts, the development of a commercial plant.
The company had previously secured funding from the Victorian State Government for up to $25 million, with $5m for stage 1 and $20m for stage 2. Part of negotiations with the state government included an extension period and assistance for the company to apply for match funding from the Federal Government.
It said on Tuesday that it had sought negotiations with the Victorian government but had been unable to secure a meeting. It was then told that the grant had been terminated.
“Greenearth Energy is disappointed with the lack of support and commitment shown by the Victorian Government and the Federal Governments ERP to assist in developing this renewable energy project for Victoria and the regional town of Geelong,” it said in a statement.
It said it had invested considerable time and had received “fantastic” support from industry partners (such as ALCOA of Australia, Leighton Contractors, Holcim Australia and The University of Melbourne) and leading engineering consulting firms including Sinclair Knight Merz and Hot Dry Rocks.
“It is disappointing to have this funding withdrawn despite positive feedback from these leading geothermal experts and at a stage where the Australian renewable energy sector is looking for ways to progress towards the Australian Federal Government’s target of a 5% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020,” it said.
It said it will continue to look at developing its Latrobe Valley interests, where it is hopeful of extracting geothermal heat from beneath the vast brown coal reserves. It is working with Monash University on that project.
The company is also focusing on the industrial energy efficiency sector in Australia and New Zealand, and CO2 to fuel conversion markets globally. It said these businesses continue to show positive and growing signs of development.
Managing director Samuel Marks said the company would also look to develop Israeli technology that uses solar thermal energy to CO2 emissions into fuels.
(This story has been updated to say that project is not yet abandoned, although funding has been pulled).