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Media Release
Ministerial Council on Greenhouse

Senator the Hon Robert Hill, Minister for the Environment
Senator the Hon Nick Minchin, Minister for Industry, Science and Resources
The Hon Warren Truss, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

19 October 1999


An experimental power station using hot rock deep beneath the earth's surface to generate electricity will be built near Sydney as part of the Howard Government's continuing campaign to develop and promote Australia's renewable energy industry.

Announcing $6 million in Commonwealth funding for nine innovative projects, Environment Minister Robert Hill said the prototype Hot Dry Rock power station provided Australia with potentially the greatest opportunity to deliver large scale electricity without greenhouse emissions.

"The University of NSW will receive $1 million develop the prototype on the site of a former gas and oil exploration well at Woronora. The aim is to inject water into granite some 2 kilometres underground where temperatures are more than 200 degrees Celsius. The super-heated water is then returned to the earth's surface through an adjacent bore and converted to electricity using conventional turbines," Senator Hill said.

"With extensive areas of hot dry rock reserves around Australia, the eventual commercialisation of this technology has great potential to help us meet our greenhouse gas reduction target."

Senator Hill said a further grant of $790,000 would go to the Australian National University and Pacific Power to locate potential Hot Dry Rock reserves in the Hunter Valley.

"The Commonwealth has committed almost $60 million in competitive grants over the next five years for the commercialisation of renewable technologies. This announcement takes the Government's commitment to a total of $22 million in less than 12 months," Senator Hill said.

Summaries of the nine successful RECP projects and their media contacts are attached.

Carol Bartley, Australian Greenhouse Office, 02 6274 1859 or 0412 994 800
Rod Bruem, Senator Hill's Office, 02 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364


Australian Greenhouse Office
Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program
Round 2 Grants - October 1999

Full- scale production for 'farmer's fuel'

A grant of $1,000,000 has been offered to Manildra Energy Australia Pty Ltd to assist the development of a commercial scale advanced technology fuel ethanol plant using wheat starch as a feed stock. The plant is located at Bomaderry, NSW and has sourced wheat from farms in Western NSW, milled at the company's Manildra plant. It will incorporate two technological innovations developed and proven in an existing pilot plant. These are Manildra's continuous fermentation technology and a molecular sieve dehydration system; both will deliver significant energy and cost efficiencies. The project represents a major advance in the commercialisation of ethanol fuel in Australia in terms of meeting current and future demand for renewable transport fuel and is expected to produce up to 700 million litres of ethanol-blended fuel. This has the potential to reduce transport industry greenhouse gasses by up to 7 percent in NSW and the ACT according to industry estimates. Contact: Mr Bob Gordon, 02 6295 2399

Developing Hot Dry Rock Power

The University of New South Wales through its School for Petroleum Engineering has been offered a grant of $1,000,000 to use its Hot Dry Rock (HDR) technology to develop Australia's first granite reservoir in the Woronora No.1 well just south of Sydney. This well was originally drilled as an oil/gas exploration well and bottoms into granite representative of Australia's extensive HDR resources. The project will develop assessment methodology and criteria, invaluable tools for characterising HDR resources and determining the most appropriate reservoir development approach. Successful completion of this project is a prerequisite to the commercial funding of projects to harvest Australia's extensive HDR resources. Very significant greenhouse gas reductions will result from the widespread exploitation of these HDR resources. Contact: A/Professor Sheik S Rahman, University of New South Wales, 02 9385 5192

The Australian National University's Department of Geology and Pacific Power have jointly been offered a grant of $790,000 to complete the first element of the exploration of the Hot Dry Rock (HDR) resource in the Hunter Valley geothermal anomaly. By the end of 2000, the project team will determine the areal extent, temperatures, rock properties and stress conditions at a depth of around 2km in the core of this anomaly. Successful completion of this project is expected to stimulate commercial exploitation of this potentially substantial energy resource. Contact: Dr Doone Wyborn, Department of Geology, ANU, 02 6249 3241

Power from the pond

A consortium of RMIT University, Geo-Eng Australia and Pyramid Salt Pty Ltd have been offered a grant of $550,000 to install a 3000 square metre pond at the Pyramid Salt Pty Ltd facility in northern Victoria. Taking advantage of heat deferential in the pond to extract energy, the project will demonstrate and commercialise the use of solar ponds for collecting and storing heat from solar radiation. RMIT University will undertake equipment and system design, monitoring and performance evaluation and Geo-Eng Australia Pty Ltd along with Pyramid Salt Pty Ltd will commercialise the system. The commercialised solar pond technology has strong market prospects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel costs in a range of rural industries requiring process heat. The heat from the solar pond will be used in commercial salt production and aquaculture. Contact: Professor Aliakbar Akbarzadeh, RMIT University, 03 9925 6079 Making solar power mainstream

Solar Kogarah, a consortium led by the Kogarah Council, has been offered a grant of $1,000,000 to establish a major building demonstration site for solar energy products in the Kogarah Town Centre. A total capacity of 200kW of Pacific Solar's innovative modular Photovoltaic (PV) roofing system for new buildings, which is currently at the pre-commercial phase of development, will be integrated into the building fabric. The site will be accessible to the general public and key industry players for on-site demonstrations, helping promote solar power as a mainstream energy source rather than an alternative energy. A renewable energy training service for professional and tradespeople in the construction industry will also be part of the project. Contact: Mr Bruce Taper, Kogarah Council, 02 9330 9516

A $740,000 grant has been offered to Forrester Kurts Properties, Integrated Energy Services and Hassell for the inclusion of an 80kW building integrated photovoltaic system in a 21 storey commercial high-rise building at 120 Edward Street, Brisbane. The Solar Integrated System will demonstrate how advanced building integration can reduce the cost of electricity produced from solar by up to 75%. The innovative design will be achieved through linking the output of the PV panels to the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system which is an integral component of the building's power conditioning system. Contact: Mr Ralph Heading, Forrester Kurts Properties, 07 3291 3640

Building better batteries

Solar energy has great potential for powering remote communities in Australia's sun-drenched outback, but the challenge is developing better batteries to efficiently store and return what's generated during the day. Australian Inland Energy (AIE) and ZBB Technologies Limited have been jointly offered a grant of $265,000 to field test the efficiency of a new 500kWh zinc bromine battery at AIE's newly commissioned White Cliffs Solar Dish Photovoltaic Concentrator Power Station in outback New South Wales. The zinc bromine battery suffers no loss of performance after repeated cycling, common in conventional batteries resulting from deterioration in electrode material, as the electrodes of this battery do not take part in the chemical reactions. The availability of low cost, reliable and low-maintenance batteries for energy storage is seen as a major factor in supporting the increased uptake of renewable remote power supplies systems. Contact: Mr Robert Hunt, Australian Inland Energy, 08 8080 2408

Improved Australian-made renewable energy technology

Most people have never heard of inverters, but they are an essential part of renewable energy systems - the necessary hardware allowing a link up with the mainstream electricity. Current models are usually imported, expensive and unreliable. Power Solutions Australia Pty Ltd, Selectronics Australia Pty Ltd and Powercor Australia Ltd have been offered a grant of $420,000 to further develop a range of innovative Australian inverters and export to the world. Contact: Dr James Brown, Power Solutions Australia Pty Ltd, 03 9706 6716

A grant of $235,000 has been offered to Energy Australia in association with Biomass Energy Services & Technology Pty Ltd (BEST), the University of Newcastle, and Australian Defence Industries to commercialise a 10kW wind turbine. The commercialisation builds on the success of the world-leading 5kW wind turbine which is now being manufactured in Australia and under licence in China for the international market. The project will adapt the technology contained in the 5kW wind turbine to a 10kW wind turbine. The turbine, which combines the high efficiency blades developed by Newcastle University and the advanced electronics developed by BEST, will be particularly suited to use in remote area power supplies. Contact: Mr Peter Headley, EnergyAustralia, 02 9269 2811

Commonwealth of Australia