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Tuesday, 26 November 1985
Page: 2307

(Question No. 611)

Senator Jessop asked the Minister for Resources and Energy, upon notice, on 10 October 1985:

(1) Could Australia's present non-transportation energy needs be satisfied for thousands of years by exploiting our geothermal energy resources such as Hot Dry Rock (HDR), using existing technology in view of the recent estimates reported in April 1985 in the South Australian Chamber of Mines' Johnny Green's Journal.

(2) Are there excellent prospects for this energy technology for Australia considering the ongoing, successful feasibility studies on HDR being conducted in Cornwall (UK) and Los Alamos (USA) (April and October 1985 issues of Johnny Green's Journal).

(3) Is the Department of Resources and Energy, via the Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR), conducting research into geothermal HDR energy resources in Australia; if not, will the Minister consider directing the BMR to undertake research into the location of suitable HDR sources in Australia, the technology required to extract the renewable heat from these sources, and the economics of exploiting these geothermal HDR sources in the future.

Senator Gareth Evans —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) No. Hot Dry Rock (HDR) technology is currently in its development stage and has not been exploited commercially anywhere. While extensive work has been carried out in the last few years in the United Kingdom and the United States it will be some time before it becomes clear whether the resource can be economically exploited.

(2) Given the state of the technology it is premature to undertake extensive assessment of Australian resources until it becomes apparent whether the technology can be commercially employed.

(3) No. See (2).