Geothermal company Hot Dry Rocks will use a $217,000 grant from the Victorian Government to assess geothermal energy in the LaTrobe Valley with a view to constructing a pilot geothermal plant close to a local large user of electricity by late 2012.

The company will measure ground temperature using existing groundwater observation bores in the Yallourn / Morwell / Maryvale area for the next six months. It will then start drilling bores at the optimal locations.

Meanwhile, Greenearth Energy has commenced a ground geophysical survey in the Latrobe Valley and onshore Gippsland Basin regions of Victoria in order to better understand the geology and to define the depth of older basement rocks beneath the sediments. Knowledge of the basement depth and structure acts as an indirect method for determining the location of potential hot sedimentary aquifer geothermal systems.

Mark Miller, managing director of Greenearth Energy, said that “The thick coal measures found within the Latrobe Valley are unique, and provide for excellent thermal insulation which increases the prospectivity of the area for geothermal resource development.”

At the same time, drilling has begun at the first site in Queensland to be tested for potential geothermal energy sources.

The site at Gundiah in south-east Queensland , is one of twelve identified by the State Government to be tested as part of its coastal geothermal energy initiative. The aim is find sources of geothermal or ‘hot rock’ energy that are close to the existing power infrastructure.