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NICTA mines for hot rocks

Big data set to down tools for geothermal activity

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Drills are set to be dumped for sophisticated data analytics in a $AU5 million initiative featuring geothermal university experts from across four states working with Australian research facility NICTA, in the pursuit of geothermal energy targets.

The two year ‘big data’ analytics project supported by the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE) will utislise NICTA’s robust research capabilities in machine learning to locate suitable ‘hot rocks’ several kilometres underground.

The ACRE initiative, Data Fusion and Machine Learning for Geothermal Target Exploration and Characterisation, will fund $1.9 million of this total. “Australia has a wealth of geothermal energy resources, but they are difficult to locate and access. We will apply NICTA’s considerable expertise in machine learning and big data analytics to create software to address these challenges,” said NICTA CEO Hugh Durrant-Whyte.

NICTA will work closely with the School of Information Technologies at the University of Sydney to develop machine learning algorithms, and the Schools of Earth Science at the Australian National University, University of Melbourne and University of Adelaide to apply these methods to the problem of geothermal target characterisation and exploration.

ASX-listed geothermal exploration and development companies GeoDynamics and Petratherm, will also be part of the team in addition to GeoScience Australia and the South Australian Department of Manufacturing, Innovation Trade Resources and Energy, who will provide geothermal sensor data sets and expertise in discovery and characterisation of geothermal targets.

The expansive project is the first to be funded under the Australian Government’s $AU126 million Emerging Renewables Program, which aims to support the development of renewable energy and enabling technologies across the innovation chain. ®

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