Renewable energy project attracts interest

TO help underpin South Australia’s growing energy demand, Petratherm has announced plans to develop a Clean Energy Precinct comprising of gas, wind, solar and geothermal power generation for the state.
At a capital cost of about $1.5 billion, the project plans to deliver 600 megawatts of power to South Australia’s market by 2016, with a focus on meeting the needs of mining customers in the north-western area of the state.
Petratherm managing director Terry Kallis described the precinct as a ‘game changer’ for the company, which would clearly differentiate its offering in the market. Mr Kallis said the precinct would initially focus on gas and wind power generation, before expanding to solar and geothermal power as technologies were developed to offer lower cost alternatives.
“This combination of energy sources can deliver attractive hybrid products to customers that lower electricity costs and improve reliability, while also reducing carbon emissions,” he said. Strategically positioned on Moolawatana Station, about 50km north of Petratherm’s Paralana geothermal project, the precinct will have access to the Moomba to Adelaide gas pipeline and more than 1800 square kilometres of land for power generation. In addition, ‘Moolawatana’, a derivative of an Adnyamathanha Aboriginal phrase meaning‘windy place’, offers abundant solar and wind resources.
“The location has been purposely selected because it’s the nearest point to the growing electricity market where there’s a convergence of all four energy resources – gas, wind, solar and geothermal,” Mr Kallis said.
While the precinct will be separate from the company’s Paralana project, Mr Kallis said it had been specifically designed to help enable large-scale geothermal power reach market.
According to Petratherm’s statement, an independent estimate had recently confirmed Paralana’s potential to produce 1300MW of continuous geothermal power for 30 years.
In an ASX release outlining the plans for the precinct, Petratherm stated that the project was expected to be developed in a staged process, with the first 300MW of power generation being a combination of gas and wind to ensure that “the product delivered to the market/customers has high availability (base-load), a competitive price and a significant carbon benefit”. Driven by market and customer needs, it was anticipated that the second 300MW stage of the project would include the introduction of large-scale geothermal and solar power technologies, as they became more cost-competitive.
Mr Kallis said work to establish the Clean Energy Precinct had already begun, with plans for monitoring equipment to beinstalled onsite to accurately measure wind and solar resources.
The project has also attracted local and international investor interest from large renewable and energy companies. Mr Kallis said that Petratherm would consider potential technology and joint venture partnerships in the coming months.
According to the company’s ASX announcement, discussions had also started with representatives of the local Adnyamathanha Aboriginal community about the nature and scope of the project.


By Danica Newnham

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