Australian Innovation

Greater opportunities for geothermal energy identified

A Clean Energy Innovation Centre R&D Forum has been held in Perth to identify the most promising technology options available to improve geothermal energy’s value to the market and increase the utilisation of this renewable energy source.

Geothermal energy, extracted from heat stored in the earth, is clean and sustainable yet initial set-up and operations outlays such as drilling and exploration costs can be expensive. However, recent developments in technology have increased the scope of geothermal energy to include among other uses, the heating of residential properties. Known as ground-source heat pumps, these advancements have increased geothermal energy’s overall potential in the renewable energy spectrum. Already in Perth, a number of buildings and pools are tapping into this underground heat source for direct use of the heat, reducing the use of electricity from fossil fuels. Meanwhile, in other parts of Australia, deep wells are being drilled into hot aquifers and hot rocks to generate steam to drive turbines to generate electricity.

R&D Forums, held throughout Australia, promote the adoption of innovation and technology to solve industry wide problems and challenges. Previous R&D topic areas have included deploying energy storage devices to smooth the electricity produced from renewable sources, and how to use the water that comes from coal seam gas mining.  

The Clean Energy Innovation Centre (CEIC) Perth R&D Forum was organised by the Australian Institute for Commercialisation (AIC) and its partners including Newcastle Innovation (NI) and the Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association (WA SEA), and focused on addressing “What are the most promising technology options and enhancements available to improve geothermal energy’s value to the market so as to facilitate further use of this renewable resource?”.

A range of overview presentations and workshops addressed areas including:
- Understanding energy user and industry needs and expectations;
- Understanding project developer needs and issues affecting deployment;
- Understanding technology issues affecting areas such as well drilling, down hole installations, data collection and surface facilities and energy transmission;
- Understanding current geothermal development activity and opportunities for local innovation.

Presentations were conducted by AGEA, Geodynamics, Green Rock Energy, Geoscience Australia and CSIRO to examine industry needs, market demands and the R&D state of play. Over 50 organisations from along the clean energy spectrum participated in the workshop style event, including members for industry association AGEA, research organisations, and government agencies.

The R&D Forum identified a range of clearly specific market needs and technology gaps and selected the opportunities for further utilisation of ground source heat for direct use (as a heating source) as an area where Australia has the capability to develop unique solutions.

A preliminary “value chain” map to understand the various players and influencers necessary to accelerate the development and commercialisation of such solutions was part of the workshop, while a review of the international market to understand the commercial opportunity such solutions may offer was also conducted.

Further outcomes will include assembling the value chain for that market opportunity through a TechClinic in order to facilitate new collaborations to develop solutions.

If you would like to find out more about R&D Forums and TechClinics please visit or call (07) 3853 5225 or e-mail info(at) for further information.

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