Qld Tax payers give Birdsville $15 million to upgrade its geothermal plant – expensive solution? Brian Wickins, 24 Jun 2017

Giles Parkinson's publication reneweconomy.com.au recently reported that the Birdsville geothermal plant, 'the only utility operated geothermal power station in Australia', is to finally get a major upgrade.

The article reports that the Queensland government has allocated $15 million to the project, but doesn't get into the cost comparisons with other forms of energy. However many readers did and make for interesting reading, with one comment stating: “An off-the-shelf ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle geothermal binary power plant) from Europe for use with 90c geothermal water, plus cooling system, would cost no more than $1 million. Let's say another $0.5 million for installation. So budget is about 10 times the real cost - taxpayers are being taken for a ride on this one..

In this case geothermal should be better than solar PV+storage, but only if done sensibly …”

Another readers added the comment: “This is a example of why electricity prices are rising so fast. Utilities not using the most cost effective technology (i.e. solar and energy storage) and delivering projects for multiples of the cost of the private sector.

I wonder if anyone will question the Queensland government's decision on this one?

Here is the article, and the link to the online article :

Birdsville geothermal plant to finally get major upgrade 

The long-awaited awaited upgrade of Australia’s only operating geothermal plant – at the iconic outback town of Birdsville, looks like it will finally occur after the Queensland government allocated $15 million to the project in the latest budget.

According to local grid operator, Ergon Energy, the Birdsville Geothermal Power Station is the only utility operated geothermal power station in Australia. It uses fairly shallow geothermal heat, rather than the super-heated hot rocks lying 4-5 km underground proposed a few years ago.

The Birdsville plant is an 85 kW net screw expander system, with the new plant expect to double the capacity to between 150 kW and 200 kW.

The biggest challenge for Ergon will be to integrate the new geothermal power station with the existing diesel power station. Tye aims to lift the share of renewable energy generation to 70% on the outback, off grid town, and displace 80% of the 500,000 litres of diesel currently consumed each year.

Ergon says the project will provide it with the knowledge and understanding of key issues associated with geothermal technical solutions for further possible application in isolated communities. Other towns have also expressed an interest in using geothermal energy.

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