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South Australian Centre for Geothermal Energy Research (SACGER)
The University of Adelaide
SA 5005
AUSTRALIA
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Telephone: +61 8 8303 2559

Latest News and Information from SACGER

November 2013

Geophysics research group wins innovation prize.  A new way to monitor groundwater developed by SACGER researchers was a winner in The Australian Innovation Challenge. Dr Stephan Thiel, Postdoctoral Fellow (SACGER) and fellow geophysicists in the 4D Electrical Earth Imaging group, won the Minerals and Energy category of the competition.

The team  have developed a low-cost, low impact, 'game-changing' approach to assessing the impacts of coal seam gas exploration and production on groundwater. "A viable and sustainable coal seam gas industry will bring domestic energy security, export growth and substantial economic prosperity for Australia. But to do this sustainably we need to address concerns surrounding potential impacts on groundwater aquifers," Dr Thiel says. Extracting gas from coal seams typically involves taking water from the aquifer to allow the gas to flow. Sometimes water is also injected at high pressure to stimulate the coal seam - the process known as fraccing.

The research group at Adelaide has pioneered the technique in a geothermal "frac" operation in South Australia, imaging changes underground as they occur. They are now seeking to apply this technology to coal seam, shale and tight gas operations across Australia. Instead of mapping fractures, we are mapping groundwater flow, which is much less invasive and lower cost than existing methods such as drilling monitoring wells or using microseismic technologies.

The Australian Innovation Challenge is an annual competition in association with Shell and supported by Innovation Australia, the Federal Government organisation supporting industry innovation.

Congratulations to SACGER staff and associates who were involved in successful Australian Research Council Discovery and Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) proposals.
Dr Joël Brugger, Prof Allan Pring and Prof Pavel Bedrikovetski will receive $250,000 over three years to investigate the role of fluorine in iron, uranium and rare earth element transport at Olympic Dam as well as the role of fluid-rock interaction in generating iron-copper mineral assemblages and controlling uranium grades and distribution. This research will underpin ongoing programs that are working to discover new Olympic Dam style ore-bodies and creating new and environmentally sustainable ore processing technology.

Linkage Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities grants. Prof Martin Hand will receive $360,000 to trace Australia's ancient evolution and secure future groundwater resources using high sensitivity and precision mass spectrometry


September 2013

Congratulations to Dr Dennis Cooke who has been appointed Second Vice President of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. Dr Cooke is Program Manager - Unconventional Resources with the Australian School of Petroleum.


May 2013

A project led by Professor Graham Heinson is helping address the unique problems associated with extracting energy from unconventional resources like shale gas, geothermal reservoirs and coal seam gas. The researchers are responding to growing demand from the energy and resources sector for sophisticated three and four-dimensional electromagnetic geophysical imaging for sub-surface resources. Funded by Adelaide Research and Innovation's Commercial Accelerator Scheme, the project will integrate hardware, software and technical expertise to provide a low-cost, low-impact method of detecting where sub-surface fluids connect.


Currently, sub-surface changes during exploration and development are monitored either by drilling observation wells or by using microseismic techniques which rely on detection of small ruptures in rocks. Microseismic techniques can lead to ambiguous results and they also require an observation well to be drilled - this may not always be feasible and can add considerable expense to a project. Electromagnetic techniques are amongst the few methods available that can estimate the direction and distance of sub-surface fluid penetration in natural fracture networks without the need for drilling of additional boreholes.


February 2013

Mr Adam Bailey, a PhD student received the KA Richards Scholarship which will help fund his PhD project titled The Australian Structural Permeability Map. The project will produce the first continent-scale map of structural permeability in Australia's energy-rich basins.


August 2012

$1.25 million to tackle geothermal challenge
The University of Adelaide has been awarded $1.25 million to lead research into one of the geothermal industry's biggest technical challenges. Supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency's (ARENA) Emerging Renewables Program, the two-year research project will investigate how the industry can reliably produce economic flow rates from geothermal wells.

The research will be led by the South Australian Centre for Geothermal Energy Research (SACGER), part of the University's Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources, in collaboration with CSIRO and partnered by South Australia's Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy and geothermal companies Panax Geothermal Limited and Geodynamics Ltd, with total investment of $3.5 million.

SACGER Director and Chief Investigator, Professor Martin Hand, said this research would have significant implications for the geothermal potential of sedimentary basins (Hot Sedimentary Aquifers (HSA)) in Australia and the development of a "near zero" emission energy industry. "Tapping the full potential of this energy source, however, requires that we gain a much better understanding of natural and engineered geothermal systems both within sedimentary basins and the rocks underneath them."South Australia is home to Australia's most advanced geothermal energy projects, with around 30 km of drilling targeting both deep fractured rock and high temperature sedimentary systems. "But predicting permeability and well productivity ahead of drilling in order to generate the required economic fluid flow rates is the most significant technical challenge confronting the Australian geothermal industry."

The project, "Reservoir Quality in Sedimentary Geothermal Resources, will evaluate why the fluid flow rates from Australia's only two geothermal wells in hot sedimentary aquifer reservoirs - Celsius-1 in the Cooper-Eromanga Basin and Salamander-1 in the Otway Basin - have been significantly lower than expected. The researchers aim to determine the causes of the low flow rates and how to evaluate reservoir quality before drilling. They also hope to identify better geothermal targets, devise remediation strategies to reverse causes of low flows and develop mitigation strategies for future geothermal drilling.


June 2012

SACGER researcher, Rosemarie Mohais attended a workshop in Computational Fluid Mechanics at Sapienza University of Rome from June 4-8 2012 http://www.tafsm.org/RCFMFSI/ The course was conducted by Professor Tayfun Tezduyar of Rice University, Dr. Alessandro Corsini and Professor Franco Rispoli of Sapienza University of Rome. The lectures addressed fundamental and advanced topics in computational fluid mechanics including a review of the fluid mechanics equations, numerical boundary conditions, spatial discretization and the finite element method, time-integration techniques, iterative solution techniques, and mesh generation.


March 2012

Professor Avner Vengosh from the Nicholas School of Environment, Duke University, North Carolina  presented a seminar on Environmental implications of hydraulic fracturing and shale gas drilling in the U.S. He was invited by SACGER and the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences to present at the regular TRaX lecture series.

Grant to Assist Geothermal Exploration. The Australian Government has awarded a $1.9 million grant to National ICT Australia Ltd's (NICTA) $5 million project to provide enhanced data for targeted geothermal exploration as part of the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE) Emerging Renewables Program. NICTA is looking to find better, automated ways to define geothermal targets, using machine learning techniques and adata analytics instead of drills.

The ACRE initiative, Data Fusion and Machine Learning for Geothermal Target Exploration and Characterisation, is a two-year, $5 million dollar program. The ACRE Emerging Renewables Program will fund $1.9 million of this total. NICTA said it would work closely with the School of Information Technologies at the University of Sydney to develop machine learning algorithms, and the Schools of Earth Science at the Australian National University, University of Melbourne and University of Adelaide to apply these methods to the problem of geothermal target characterisation and exploration.

The project teams will also work with ASX-listed geothermal exploration and development companies Geodynamics and Petratherm, as well as GeoScience Australia and the South Australian Department of Manufacturing, Innovation Trade Resources and Energy. Read more.

Geodynamics The geothermal leader in Australia has begun drilling the Habanero 4 well - its first well for three years - with an expected completion in around four months. Read more.


January 2012

Clean Energy Precinct Petratherm unveiled plans for a Clean Energy Precinct on Moolawatana Station to deliver 600 MW of power. The Precinct project is to comprise a mix of gas, wind and solar power generation, and later geothermal power connection. Read more.

37th Stanford Geothermal Workshop: January 30 - February 1, 2012. Fisher Conference Center at the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center, 326 Galvez Street, Stanford, CA 94305.
Abstract submissions by October 7th, 2011. Read more.


December 2011

Hot Dry Rocks Pty Ltd A good 3D animation of heat flow, crustal temperature and reservoir modelling presented by Hot Dry Rocks Read more.

The International Partnership for Geothermal Technology held a Workshop on Induced Seismicity in Melbourne on Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th.


November 2011

New Zealand Geothermal Workshop 2011: November 21 - 23, 2011. University of Auckland,
New Zealand. Read more.

AGEC 2011: Australian Geothermal Energy Conference. November 16 - 18, 2011. Sebel Albert
Park, Melbourne. Read more.

Petratherm's promotional synopsis video of project to date. Read more.

The Gillard Government's Clean Energy Bill entered legislation.  The Clean Energy Bill will put an initial price of $23 per tonne of carbon (or equivalent greenhouse gases) emitted into the atmosphere from July 2012. Read more.


October 2011

GRC 35th Annual Meeting: Geothermal Resources Council, October 23 - 26, 2011. Town and
Country Resort and Convention Center, San Diego, California. Martin Hand from SACGER and Bettina B from DMITRE attended the annual meeting.

Petratherm: The results of the Paralana2: Fracture stimulation and animation of the micro seismic cloud propagation are available. Read more.


September 2011

A Fracture Stimulation Symposium was held at the National Wine Centre. Halliburton, Schlumberger and others showcased the potential of unconventional reservoirs. Researchers from the University of Adelaide were in attendance. Read more.

Excellence in Research Lectures: The first of the University of Adelaide Excellence in Research series of Boardroom Dinners hosted by Macquarie Private Wealth was held on Wednesday 21st September. Professor Martin Hand presented to twenty university and Macquarie guests over dinner.

South Australian Centre for Geothermal Energy Research (SACGER) gets a boost.
On June 29th, Hon Mike Rann MP, Premier of South Australia, announced in Parliament that the government will be contributing a further $2 million to SACGER.
$1 million of the funds will be made available from the Renewable Energy Fund (RenewablesSA). A further $1 million will come from the Departments of Primary Industry and Resources and Trade and Economic Development. This financial support will be applied specifically to developing tools for imaging geothermal reservoirs, improving simulation of fluid flows in the reservoirs and mapping fracture systems.


August 2011

As part of the TRaX Seminar Series, Prof Wilfred Elders (UC Riverside) presented 'Drilling into Magma in Iceland: The Ultimate High-Temperature Geothermal Resource' at the Mawson Lecture Theatre on Friday August 19th. The following Friday (26th) PhD candidate Jared Peacock (University of Adelaide) presented 'Real-Time Monitoring of a Fluid Injection Test with Magnetotellurics' at the same venue.  August 2011
As part of the TRaX Seminar Series, Prof Wilfred Elders (UC Riverside) presented 'Drilling into Magma in Iceland: The Ultimate High-Temperature Geothermal Resource' at the Mawson Lecture Theatre on Friday August 19th. The following Friday (26th) PhD candidate Jared Peacock (University of Adelaide) presented 'Real-Time Monitoring of a Fluid Injection Test with Magnetotellurics' at the same venue.


July 2011

Petratherm conducts their geothermal reservoir fracture stimulation program at Paralana. Read more.


June 2011

On June 29th, Hon Mike Rann MP, Premier of South Australia, announces in Parliament that the government will be contributing a further $2 million to the centre. $1 million of the funds will be made available from the Renewable Energy Fund (Renewables SA). A further $1 million will come from the Departments of Primary Industry and Resources and Trade and Economic Development. This financial support will be applied specifically to developing tools for imaging geothermal reservoirs, improving simulation of fluid flows in the reservoirs and mapping fracture systems. Source: Hansard, Estimates Committee A, proceedings (page 72).

SACGER collaborator and PhD candidate Jared Peacock is invited by the GEM Beijing 2011 Technical Committee, to present his paper "Progress towards magnetotelluric time lapse monitoring of enhanced geothermal system fluids" at the International Workshop on Gravity, Electrical & Magnetic Methods and their Applications in Beijing, China, October 10-13, 2011, co-organized by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) and the Chinese Geophysical Society (CGS). »

The IUGG (International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics) General Assembly and Conference took place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, 28 June - 7 July 2011. SACGER collaborators, Stephan Thiel, Jared Peacock and Rosemarie Mohais, presented the latest results of their research; respectively: Electrical Structure of South Australia Lithosphere: Examples from 3D Inversion Results Using Cloud Computing; Monitoring Enhanced Geothermal Systems Fluids with Magnetotellurics; and, First Estimation of Maximum Attainable Temperature Output in HDR Reservoirs with Permeable-wall Fractures.

Hot Dry Rocks, Geothermal Energy Consultants, release their 56th newsletter, 1 June 2011: HDR News.


May 2011

SACGER and the School of Chemical Engineering hosted a Research Seminar: Mineral Scaling in Geothermal Energy Development. The seminar was presented by visiting guest Prof Kevin Brown, University of Canterbury NZ, on Friday the 17th of June 2011, at Engineering South S111.  Read more.

SACGER collaborator and PhD candidate Jared Peacock makes the news in the Adelaide Advertiser with "The 10 Big Questions: How does the Earth work?", and in particular: Earth's Power Potential and Engineered Reservoir System (EGS). The Advertiser 10/5/2011, Section: Education Now, p28.  Read more.

The AGEA (Australian Geothermal Energy Association) held its annual conference (AGEC), 16-18th of November 2011 at the Sebel, Albert Park, in Melbourne.

The US DOE (US Department of Energy) has provided notice that the GTP (Geothermal Technologies Program) intends to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement on the 6th of May 2011. This is of particular interest to Australian researchers if they qualify as non-US Collaborators to the US main applicant/Chief Investigator. The closing date for Interest of Registration is the 15th of July 2011. Further information is available at FedConnect and DOE websites.

On the 4th of May 2011, the European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC), the US Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA), the Australian Geothermal Energy Association (AGEA), and the Chilean Geothermal Energy Association (ACHEGEO) announce the
inception of the International Geothermal Business Coalition to promote further support from Governments. Read more.

Hot Dry Rocks, Geothermal Energy Consultants, release their 55th newsletter, 1 May 2011: HDR News.


April 2011

The University of Queensland reports the official opening (20 April 2011) of the Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence (QGECE). QLD Premier Anna Bligh, MP Stephen Robertson, Industry, Academia, Government and Media representatives, as well as SACGER were all welcomed by  Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Paul Greenfield and QGECE Director, Prof. Hal Gurgenci.

Origin Energy announces in an ASX media release (20 April 2011) that Origin Energy Geothermal Pty Ltd, on behalf of the Innamincka Shallows Joint Venture (Geodynamics Pty Ltd), have completed drilling of the Celsius One geothermal exploration well, reaching its target depth of 2,360 metres.

The European Geosciences Union (EGU) 2011 General Assembly took place in Vienna 03-08 April. The EGU conference featured 4,333 oral and 8,439 poster presentations over 707 sessions, with 10725 scientists (from 96 countries) in attendance, including Prof. Martin Hand from SACGER. Next year: EGU General Assembly 2012, 22-27 April 2012, Vienna, Austria.

Hot Dry Rocks, Geothermal Energy Consultants, release their 54th newsletter, 1 April 2011: HDR News.


March 2011

Tax Deduction a Major Boost for Geothermal Energy in Australia (24 March 2011): Minister for Resources and Energy.

AAPG Hedberg Conference, Napa CA: Enhanced Geothermal Systems 14-17 March; attended by SACGER along with other Australian EGS researchers from Universities of Western Australia and Queensland,
as well as IESE, CSIRO and PIRSA (AAPG Hedberg Napa, EGS 2011).

Geothermal Research Initiative (GRI) members hold a workshop at Monash University (1 March 2011): 'De-risking Geothermal Energy'.

Hot Dry Rocks, Geothermal Energy Consultants, release their 53rd newsletter, 1 March 2011: HDR News.


February 2011

The 36th Annual Stanford Geothermal Workshop was held at Stanford University, January 31 - February 2, and featured some 140 papers. Australian scientists and engineers, as well as SACGER's Director attended the geothermal reservoir engineering workshop.

Hot Dry Rocks, Geothermal Energy Consultants, release their 52nd newsletter, 1 February 2011: HDR News.


January 2011

Petratherm's Paralana project: perforation and injectivity test successfully completed: PTR ASX release, 4 January 2011. Geodynamics announces that Mr Geoff Ward commences on this day his role as MD and CEO and succeeds  Dr Jack Hamilton GDY ASX release, 31 January 2011.

Hot Dry Rocks, Geothermal Energy Consultants, release their 51st newsletter, 1 January 2011: HDR News.

Find out more about some of our publications

Better understanding of scaling in geothermal systems through new research facility
Dr Yung Ngothai, Professor Allan Pring, Dr Joel Brugger and Associate Professor Brian O'Neil

This work involves corrosion and scaling in Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) and follows on from a pilot study using a hydrothermal cell at representative reservoir temperatures (100-250°C) to study fluid-rockinteractions in geothermal reservoirs.

However, the pilot study cell operated at pressures well below pressures (~ 300 bars) typical of EGS reservoirs in South Australia Researchers have built and tested a high-pressure flow-through cell which allows probing of fluid-rock interactions at temperatures up to 250°C and pressures of up to 600 bars. These conditions realistically simulate geothermal reservoir conditions. This flow-through rig has worked successfully in the laboratory and has also been used for in-situ experiments on one of the neutron diffraction beam lines on the Open Pool Australian Lightwater reactor at Lucas Heights. These experiments allow the dissolution and precipitation process to be studied in real time. In collaboration with TRaX researchers, a CAMECA SX-5 electron probe has been purchased through Australian Research Council funding. South Australian Premiers Science Research funds have been used for a trace element mapping facility to better characterise the outcomes of dissolution and precipitation experiments.


Mapping fracture systems in South Australian geothermal reservoir analogues
Dr Guillaume Backé, Dr Mark Tingay, Dr Rosalind King and Dr Simon Holford

This project aims to characterise fractures in geothermal aifers and granites in South Australia. The focus is on geothermal areas with existing seismic (especially 3D) and well datasets, such as the north west flank of the Patchawarra Trough (tenements held by Panax, Clean, Green Rock Energy and Osiris) and the Otway Basin (tenements held by Panax), as well as more advanced geothermal projects such as Habanero (Geodynamics) and Paralana (Petratherm). Read more.

This research will build on the established track records of the University of Adelaide in the analysis of stress, structure and seismic data in petroleum systems and facilitates the transfer of this critically  important knowledge towards geothermal applications.