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Further commitment to geothermal needed in Australia

Australia could become a world geothermal leader if the nation makes further long-term commitment to building the geothermal energy industry, says Australian Geothermal Energy Association (AGEA) Chairman Terry Kallis.

Kallis says the geothermal industry needed a price on carbon and strong capital funding similar to that received by other clean energy industries such as carbon capture and storage and solar. It also needs infrastructure built to bring low cost geothermal energy into the national electricity market.

AGEA has always acknowledged that all clean energy technologies have a role to play in the future energy mix. However, at the moment clean coal has a A$2.5 billion programme and solar energy a A$1.6bn programme yet clean coal is even less advanced technically than geothermal energy around the world and solar energy will stay 2 to 3 times more expensive over the current forecast timeframes – out to 2030. Alongside this, geothermal grants have amounted to A$200 million and these have now been fully allocated,” Kallis has told the Australian Geothermal Energy Conference in Adelaide.

“Geothermal energy is the only base-load form of new renewable energy and on the Commonwealth’s own predictions is likely to be the lowest cost generation technology by 2030. And, for every dollar spent on transmission, the geothermal sector has the potential to put three times more power into the system than the wind industry – and at a lower price.”

He says the industry was appreciative of State and Federal governments for their support in drilling grants and the Renewable Energy Demonstration Programme grants but that funding programmes need to reflect the potential of the technologies.

Failure to further support the geothermal energy will result in electricity users paying more for their power than they need to in the future.

“The geothermal industry also joins the call for a price on carbon and we believe the Federal Government got it right the first time with the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) green paper in 2008,” he says.

The geothermal association supports:

  • A price on carbon with a market based emissions trading scheme to maximise efficiency and encourage innovation;
  • A Target of 25% by 2020 in order to have a material impact and to support a long-term target of 60% by 2050;
  • Management of impacts, households, trade exposed emissions and intensive businesses;
  • A Climate Change Action Fund – investment in low emission, energy efficiency, best practice; and
  • The Renewable Energy Target scheme to work with CPRS to 2030.

“South Australia has been a pioneer of geothermal development and it is encouraging to now see the industry develop across the other states of Australia. The geothermal industry is ideally placed to supply most of the nation’s renewable energy needs but we need a strong government policy framework to succeed,” Kallis concludes.

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