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UPDATE: US, Australian Companies Taking Giant Steps for Global EGS Geothermal

The company Packers Plus Energy Services Inc. distributed a release on its role as partner with Geodynamics Limited (ASX:GDY) at the Geodynamics Innamincka Deeps Project in the Cooper Basin of South Australia. “Packers Plus worked closely with Geodynamics to design specialized Inferno™ completions equipment capable of withstanding 300°C (600°F) and 69 MPa (10,000 psi) pressure,” the company stated.

“This equipment was instrumental to the EGS process, which involves stimulating existing fractures in low-permeability, high-temperature rock to allow water to flow through and be superheated.” Geoff Ward, CEO of Geodynamics was quoted, “the willingness of Packers Plus to design and test their equipment to the limit has made them a strategic partner for Geodynamics.” The successful commissioning of the 1MWe Habanero Pilot Plant was announced in July.

The 1-MW Habanero pilot plant now producing electricity in South Australia near Innamincka is a big step for Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). The company operating it, Geodynamics, has made some remarkable discoveries at the site that contribute to its value for the EGS world.

Australia’s Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy Tom Koutsantonis said in a press release, “The Habanero project is a globally significant demonstration of EGS geothermal capability.” The Minister also noted that South Australia was the first state to offer geothermal license areas. “The results that we've seen at Habanero suggest that we have discovered the most productive EGS system in the world,” CEO Geoff Ward was quoted (Geodynamics Press Release (PDF)). “It's hotter than the other systems that are operating." The site is also notable in that it is a greenfield site.

The complete pilot testing program at the site is scheduled to run for about 100 days and should be finished by August. The company has yet to find a customer in the Cooper Basin to take a material load of power, but assuming they do, they could develop a larger plant at the high-temperature site.

The news from Australia comes on the heels of three U.S EGS geothermal projects, all of which are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. In April of this year, Ormat Technologies successfully produced 1.7 additional MW from the Desert Peak, Nevada, EGS site – making it the first EGS project to be connected to the electricity grid. In January, we reported via AltaRock that the company’s EGS  project in Oregon had created “three geothermal reservoirs from a single well where none existed before.” And at the Geysers in California -the world’s largest series of geothermal plants – a DOE investment in EGS resulted in an additional 5-MW equivalent of geothermal steam.

Images: Habanero plant, Geodynamics, South Australia

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Leslie is located in Washington DC at the Office of the Geothermal Energy Association and serves on the Renewable Energy World North America Conference and Expo committee.

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