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Countries partner to pioneer enhanced geothermal energy

Sep 3, 2008 - Tom Young - BusinessGreen

Australia, USA and Iceland forge alliance to explore potential of new geothermal technologies

Geothermal plant
The three nation alliance plans to develop geothermal technologies

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced it is partnering with Australia and Iceland to develop new enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) that some advocates claim could one day generate enough power to meet all the world's energy needs.

The three countries have signed a charter to explore cutting edge EGS technologies such as deep drilling and geothermal energy conversion.

"Enhanced geothermal systems have the potential to be the world's only ever-present form of baseload renewable energy," said the US Department of Energy’s acting assistant secretary for policy Katharine Fredriksen. "This international collaborative will bind the US, Australia and Iceland to work together to accelerate the development of geothermal energy, bringing this clean, domestic and natural energy to the market in the near-term to confront the serious challenges of climate change and energy security."

Enhanced geothermal systems artificially inject water into areas of hot rock to create steam, rather than just relying on naturally-occurring steam flows. The resulting steam can then be harnessed to drive turbines or provide heat.

The DOE said the collaboration will encourage research, development and deployment of projects critical to widespread use of EGS and deep drilling technologies, as well as lead to the exchange of best practices and introduction of new training programs to support emerging EGS techniques.

The partnership may also be extended to include more countries in the future, the DOE said.

The alliance is the latest in a series of developments underlining the growing interest towards the technology. The Australian government recently pledged to spend $42m pursuing geothermal energy generation, while last month Google's clean tech investment programme said it was to offer $10m of funding to three EGS research projects.