Outback geothermal plant goes live

Innamincka's megawatt pilot plant starts 100 days of testing

Geodynamics has pulled the big Acme switch on its Habanero pilot plant, near the remote South Australian town of Innamincka.

Perched atop 4 km of drillings, the pilot plant has 1 MWe (megawatts of electrical energy) capacity and is about to enter a 100-day trial and demonstration project to be completed in August 2013.

The operation represents a crucial milestone for Geodynamics, which has spent ten years working to get geothermal power a seat at the table in Australia's renewable energy debate. Its original Habanero 1 heat exchanger in 2003 first demonstrated the potential of the site, and the power plant construction was completed in 2009, but the project has suffered setbacks and some drilling disappointments.

Geodynamics says the Habanero 4 drilling, one of two connected to the 1 MWe power plant, was one of the most technically challenging in Australia in 2012. It included establishing a hot circulation loop with the company's first drilling, Habanero 1. The rocks driving the geothermal plant have a temperature of about 242°C.

The company believes the Habanero site has around nearly 60,000 petajoules of recoverable thermal energy which would, it says, deliver around 7,000 petajoules of end user power. ®

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