Geodynamics writes off Cooper Basin geothermal assets | RenewEconomy

Geodynamics writes off Cooper Basin geothermal assets

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Geodynamics writes off most of Cooper Basin geothermal assets, but still has high hopes for the technology, and for building a 5-10MW commercial project.

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Australia’s flagship geothermal developer, Geodynamics, has written down the value of its Cooper Basin operations and plant assets, citing the subdued outlook for electricity demand in Australia.

The decision to write $88.8 million off its Cooper Basin assets comes as the company completes a trial of its 1MW Habanero pilot plant near Innamincka, which sourced energy from super-heated rocks 4.2kms below the surface – deeper than any other geothermal plant in the world.

However, despite the fact that the carrying value of deferred exploration and development costs have been written down to zero, and the Habanero plant down to “fair value”, Geodynamics said the does not change its view about the future of enhanced geothermal systems (also known as hot rocks geothermal technology).

Geodynamics said the results from the Habanero trial, including steam flows and reliability, supported its belief that EGS could play a material role in Australia’s energy future because it could deliver large scale, continuous, predictable and controllable energy.

But it said that developing the Cooper Basin resource will require “significant capital investment” for further exploration, development and to extend transmission infrastructure.

“Under the current market conditions, this scale of expenditure is not economic and significant changes in the level of demand and improvement of wholesale power prices will be required to support such national scale infrastructure development,” the company said.

The National Electricity Market is experiencing an unprecedented fall in demand, caused by the popularity of rooftop solar PV, the impact of energy efficiency measures, and declining manufacturing and industrial activity in some areas.

AGL Energy recently said that 9GW of baseload power is surplus to requirements. Geothermal energy producers would look to compete with baseload power generators. Origin Energy, a former partner to Geodynamics, last week expressed frustration that the renewable energy target provided no support for emerging technologies such as geothermal.

Geodynamics says it is still developing plans for an initial smaller scale commercial project of 5 – 10 MW to supply companies such as Santos, Beach, and Chevron who are looking to exploit shale gas and shale oil developments in the region.

Geodynamics said this would require six wells to be operating. It is currently in discussions with potential customers and funders and says it hopes to secure a power purchase agreement this financial year to allow the project to proceed.

“With the continued exploration for unconventional gas and oil  … the market for energy, both power and industrial heat in the Cooper Basin has substantial potential to grow. We believe our Innamincka resource is well positioned to supply this market as these projects are developed. “

The write-down caused the company to report a net loss of $105 million for the 2012/13 financial year.

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  1. suthnsun 7 years ago

    six more very expensive wells just to supply enough power for fracking and shale gas production? Unfortunately it’s looking very much like Geodynamics is a company I am not in favour of succeeding.

  2. Biff 7 years ago

    Large scale geothermal is starting to lose its lustre as a viable source of clean energy. It seems as if it’s been promising results for years now but never delivers. I can appreciate the complexity of drilling 4 km beneath the surface but maybe that’s the problem?

    If we are really serious about actually reducing our emissions then government will have to pick winners at some point given the inherent disparity in startup costs for geothermal/ocean power/offshore wind etc.

    Step 1 – pick the low-hanging fruit and concentrate on efficiency
    Step 2 – build a smarter grid
    Step 3 – incentivise storage and battery tech
    Step 4 – rollout as much rooftop solar as possible as well as smart grid-interactive
    Step 5 – solar and wind farms everywhere
    Step 6 – join the global nuclear fusion research initiative and encourage it. Fusion
    may be pie in the sky right now but with the technology curve pretty much
    anything is possible if we put our collective minds to it

  3. John Scior 5 years ago

    It seems transmission of the electricity is the problem. I am wondering if salt water could be piped in, use the electricity to split off the hydrogen then pipe the hydrogen back to generators close to population centers. This idea would be to eliminate the problem of loss of energy in transmitting electricity over long distances. If natural gas and or oil/pipelines are being built , it seems a water/ hydrogen pipeline could be added.

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