The Australian Geothermal Energy Association (AGEA) said the industry can be expected to provide up to 2,200MW of base-load capacity into the National Electricity Market by 2020.

Speaking at the 2008 Australian Geothermal Energy Conference, AGEA chairman Gerry Grove White said the figures showed geothermal energy “will be an increasingly important part of Australia’s future energy supply mix”.

This was just one of the findings of a new report into the industry’s future potential commissioned by the AGEA and launched at the conference.

It also estimated that $12bn would need to be invested to develop the 2,200MW of installed capacity.

Economic modelling firm McLennan Magasanik Associates, which prepared the report, predicted that the cost of generating geothermal energy will fall rapidly to become more economically viable by 2020.

Most of the new capacity is expected to come from developments in South Australia, with other states catching up towards 2020.

“This reports highlights that the Australian geothermal energy industry has a potentially significant contribution to solving Australia’s long term climate change challenges” Mr Grove White said.

“AGEA is now planning to undertake further work on the benefits of accelerating the development of geothermal energy and the associated economic, social and environmental impacts and export potential which will be undertaken in consultation with key government policy reform processes.”

He warned the conference that it will be crucial to get policies right to help Australia’s emerging renewable energy technologies grow.

“These technologies must be bought into the market sooner, as the deep cuts in emissions cannot be achieved without their accelerated deployment given future demand predictions from the energy sector” Mr Grove White said.

Kate Martin

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