Potential to be hot rock hot spot

TESTING is under way on a Fraser Coast property to unlock a significant new renewable energy resource for the region and Queensland.

On Wednesday the property, which is near Gundiah, became the first location in Queensland to be tested for geothermal “hot rock” resources.

The Fraser Coast is the first of 12 locations that will be tested as part of the State Government's Coastal Geothermal Energy Initiative drilling program.

Mines and Energy Minister Stephen Robertson said a single test hole had been drilled at the property to collect temperature and thermal conductivity data from the geological formations.

The hole was drilled to a depth of 320 metres.

“Once drilling is completed, the hole will be left undisturbed for 6-8 weeks to allow temperatures to stabilise,” he said. “Then a probe will be progressively lowered down the hole to take temperature readings at one metre intervals.

“Geoscientific data collected will help identify whether potentially viable geothermal hot rock resources are present in the Maryborough Basin South.

“No hydraulic fracturing or toxic chemicals will be used in the drilling process and there will be no impact on water aquifers.

“Electric fencing is in place to keep livestock away from the test hole and the site will be fully rehabilitated.”

Emma-Kate Currie, co-ordinator for the Wide Bay-Burnett Conservation Council, said if a geothermal energy plant was established on the Fraser Coast, it could create as many new jobs for the region as the Colton mine.

“It looks like it could be a really positive step toward establishing a renewable source of energy.”

She said one of the major benefits of geothermal energy was that it was more reliable than other sources of renewable energy.

The plant, if it were to be established, would be close to the Mary River, which was cause for some concern, Ms Currie said, but she was confident the government and the conservation council could work closely together to achieve the best outcome.

“I'd much rather see a project like this than open-cut mining.”

Mr Robertson said geothermal energy had a bright future in Queensland because it had the potential to produce more base-load energy than any other renewable energy source.

“Queensland's known geothermal hot rock resources are generally found in remote areas of the state ... this remoteness adds considerably to the potential cost of constructing electricity transmission lines linking future geothermal energy plants with communities and industry.

“That's why we need to identify areas with potential for geothermal hot rocks to exist closer to the coast.”

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