NICTA leads $5M geothermal ‘big data’ analytics initiative
NICTA is leading a multi-million dollar ICT-enabled geothermal energy initiative announced by the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE) today. NICTA’s robust research capabilities in machine learning and in the increasingly significant area of big data analytics will be used to locate geothermal energy sources deep beneath the surface of the Earth.
Geothermal energy comes from the intense heat generated by rocks located several kilometres underground. It is abundant, renewable; and has zero carbon output, making it an ideal energy source. Locating suitable ‘hot rocks’, however, is a manual, expensive exercise. NICTA is leading a team of university experts from four states to find better, automated ways to define geothermal targets, using machine learning techniques and advanced data analytics instead of drills. The ACRE initiative, Data Fusion and Machine Learning for Geothermal Target Exploration and characterisation, is a two-year, five million dollar program. The ACRE Emerging Renewables Program will fund $1.9M of this total.
“Australia has a wealth of geothermal energy resources, but they are difficult to locate and access,” said NICTA CEO Hugh Durrant-Whyte. “We will apply NICTA’s considerable expertise in machine learning and big data analytics to create software to address these challenges.”
NICTA will 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, who will provide geothermal sensor data sets and expertise in discovery and characterisation of geothermal targets.
This is the first project to be funded under the Australian Government’s $126 million Emerging Renewables Program, which has been established to provide support for the development of renewable energy and enabling technologies across the innovation chain.
About Geothermal energy
Geothermal energy comes from the intense heat generated by rocks several kilometres underground. The heat is transferred or conducted towards shallower rocks near the surface. .It is virtually free of carbon dioxide and other emissions, is abundant and renewable. It is the only renewable energy source which can provide long-term base load power, 24 hours a day. Wind, solar and wave sources rely on particular environmental conditions and therefore cannot be used for base load generation.
In geothermal energy systems, heat is extracted from the rocks by circulating water through them. This extremely hot water comes back to the surface under pressure and is converted into electricity. Geoscience Australia, the national agency for geoscience research, estimates that one per cent of Australia's geothermal energy could supply the nation's annual requirements for
26,000 years. Electricity can be generated using temperatures as low as 100°C, although larger scale production can require higher temperatures. Temperatures of 30°C and above can be used
in industry, agriculture and to heat and cool residential buildings ¹.
Document: NICTA leads $5M geothermal ‘big data’ analytics initiative
Contact: Dorothy Kennedy
Communications Specialist (Media), NICTA
9376 2098 or 0488229687