The Federal Government has announced a $1.25 million funding injection for a research project into geothermal energy potential.


Administered by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the funding will contribute to a $3.54 million project being undertaken by the University of Adelaide that will aim to better understand and predict the permeability of geothermal drilling wells.


“Understanding permeability, or the ability of a rock to allow fluids to pass through it, is essential to predict the potential for geothermal energy generation from hot water that is circulating deep underground, known as hot sedimentary aquifers,” Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said.


"If we can predict well permeability more accurately companies can better determine exploration and production sites, leading to lower costs and risk in the geothermal industry.


“The two geothermal wells drilled in hot sedimentary aquifers reservoirs in Australia have achieved fluid flow rates, and hence permeability, that was significantly lower than expected.”


The University of Adelaide’s initiative will undertake a scientific analysis of Australia's two existing geothermal wells drilled in hot sedimentary aquifers - the Cooper-Eromanga Basin covering north-east of South Australia and south west Queensland and the Otway Basin in Southern Victoria and South Australia. Outcomes of the study will include remediation strategies for the wells and recommendations for drilling practices or other mitigation strategies that will help avoid damage to geothermal wells.


The study is expected to be completed in September 2014 with participation from CSIRO, Geodynamics Limited, Panax Geothermal Limited and the South Australian Department of Manufacturing, Industry, Trade, Resources and Energy.