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Old 06-10-2009, 12:47 PM
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Default Government backing increasingly solid

Ferguson invites bids for geothermal applications


CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA: The Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP has invited geothermal companies to submit applications for funding under Round 2 of the A$50 million (US$39.8 million) Geothermal Drilling Program, which opened today.

Round 2 funding will provide grants of up to A$7 million (US$5.6 million) on a matching-funding basis to support the drilling of deep geothermal wells and help finance geothermal proof-of-concept projects.

Geothermal energy producers pump water below ground (sometimes as deep as 5 kilometers (3.1 miles)), where it is heated by 'hot rocks'. The heat energy is then used to generate electricity.

Ferguson said: "Geoscience Australia estimates that if just one per cent of Australia's geothermal energy was extracted it would equate to 26,000 times Australia's total annual energy consumption.

"Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source with enormous potential in Australia; however, the Government recognizes technical development costs are high.

"The Australian Government is pleased to be able to support drilling at the first stage of development as part of its A$4.5 billion (US$3.5 billion) Clean Energy Initiative.

"Geothermal energy is important because it has the capacity to produce baseload power, diversify Australia's energy supply and increase our energy security.

"The Australian Government has set a target for 20 per cent of Australia's electricity generation to come from renewable sources by 2020; a policy which will likely require an additional 45,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity generation from renewable sources.

"I invite geothermal companies to compete for the funding available and submit applications."

Two successful Round 1 applicants, MNGI Pty Ltd and Panax Geothermal Limited, received A$14 million in April 2009.
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