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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing $450,000 to the University of Adelaide to map geothermal resources in Australia.

The $1.62 million project, led by Professor Martin Hand and Dr Ros King, will produce maps of the distribution, orientation and connectivity of fractures in four key sedimentary basins around Australia to better understand the structural permeability in these regions.

Permeability affects how easily liquids and gases can move through and be extracted from the earth, including hot water that can be used to generate geothermal power.

Geothermal projects in Australia face major headwinds due to the high cost and risk involved with drilling deep underground.

This is in contrast to projects in some other countries that benefit from tapping into geothermal heat far closer to the surface.

The University of Adelaide’s South Australian Centre for Geothermal Energy Research, part of its Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources, will also develop a “toolkit” to assist developers to predict permeability pathways within critical Australian sedimentary basins and reduce the risks associated with drilling operations.

This information will join other knowledge discovered through ARENA-supported geothermal projects and serve as a go-to source for future developments, providing a head start on viability and risk assessments.

This latest project is consistent with the 2014 International Geothermal Expert Group forward looking report that recommended ‘rebooting’ Australia’s geothermal industry.

The International Geothermal Expert Group was established by ARENA to investigate and report on the prospects for the commercial development of geothermal energy in Australia.

Meanwhile, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has released a new report which shows doubling Australia’s renewable energy could free up much-needed water supply for farmers.

Water withdrawals in 2030 could drop by more than a quarter in Australia if there is a doubling of renewable energy capacity on 2010 levels.

The UN-backed organisation found solar PV and wind withdraw up to 200 times less water than conventional power generation including coal, natural gas and nuclear.

Victorian fruit grower John Pettigrew said investing in renewables is a win-win for farmers as it can help minimise the effect climate change has on crops and redirect water resources.

IRENA also found doubling Australia’s investment in renewable energy by 2030 will have a positive impact on the national economy with conservative estimates claiming it will boost GDP by 1.7 per cent.

The report is available online via: https://goo.gl/eCKg3F

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