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Birdsville in Australia abandons plans for renewal of geothermal plant

Birdsville geothermal plant, Queensland, Australia (source: geothermal.uq.edu.au)
Alexander Richter 7 Jun 2018

Local utility Ergon Energy in Queensland/ Australia has decided to abandon plans to renew its small geothermal power station in favour to a solar PV and storage strategy. This means the end to the currently only geothermal plant in Australia.

As reported this morning from Australia, plans to renew the small geothermal power station in Birdsville/ Australia, have been abandoned in favour of distributed solar and storage.

Birdsville is a small town in Central west Queensland that has been the site of the currently only utility-owned and operated geothermal power plant in Australia.

As announced by state government-owned network operator Ergon Energy late last week, the company now encourages residents of the frontier town to install rooftop solar PV and battery storage as the best option for increasing renewables on the isolated grid.

The company now plans “technology trial” where households install rooftop solar to help power the remote community in Queensland, dramatically reducing its reliance on diesel.

So while many details are still to be finalised, Ergon says it expects solar PV and storage to be able to reduce the amount of diesel used to generate power for the town by 118,000 litres a year. With that solar and battery roll-out it is planned to reduce the number of generators needed to meet peak loads, and to provide customers with greater energy choices.

In the same statement, Ergon said it had “reluctantly decided” not to continue with plans to replace the town’s geothermal power station, which at its peak supplied up to 20 per cent of the town’s electricity needs.

Those plans, which were very much alive in June last year, would have integrated a new geothermal power station with the existing diesel power station, lifting the share of renewables generation to 70 per cent for the outback, off grid town.

Ergon’s manager of isolated networks, Glenn Dahlenburg, said the decision to drop the geothermal component was guided by rapidly changing energy market dynamics – in particular, the plummeting cost of solar PV.

“This decision was made due to rapidly changing energy market driven by our customers’ adoption of renewable energy such as PV and the continued reduction in energy storage costs, which is expected to substantially alter the energy requirements of our isolated communities in the future,” he said.

“Ergon’s adoption of geothermal technology at Birdsville in 1992 was ground-breaking, but it remained the only utility-owned and operated plant in Australia until it reached the end of life and ceased supplying power to customers last year.

 

Source: One Step Off the Grid