Digital drilling: can data unearth geothermal sources?

 

NSW chief scientist revives 'Glass Earth' initiative.

Australia’s floundering geothermal industry has enlisted NICTA’s machine learning experts to identify and characterise likely sources of renewable energy without needing to drill.

Despite government incentives, geothermal companies have so far struggled with the high costs of drilling exploratory wells to discover suitable “hot rocks” three to five kilometres underground.

NICTA aims to avoid those costs by combining existing data from industry partners and Geoscience Australia to determine the porosity of rocks in an area and how easily they may be fractured.

Companies could use those properties to assess the economic viability of prospective projects, which generally involve passing water through fractures in the rocks and harnessing resultant steam.

According to project leader and NICTA chief executive officer Hugh Durrant-Whyte, the project could deliver a “value-add” solution to geothermal industry partners within two years.

Durrant-Whyte planned to fuse together and extract information from seismic data, remote sensing imagery and magnetotellurics by adapting techniques that NICTA had developed for biology and underwater terrains.

Like uncovering a terrorist network, no single data source yields the desired result but the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

“The problem is essentially a large-scale data one,” Durrant-Whyte explained. “Australia has a very big competitive advantage in terms of large data sets; a lot of data is held by Geoscience Australia.”

Discussions for the project commenced late last year and a workshop involving Australian Centre for Renewable Energy chair and NSW chief scientist Mary O’Kane was convened in mid-2011.

“Getting people who are computer scientists and mathematicians to talk to geologists can be quite challenging,” Durrant-Whyte said, declining to identify NICTA’s partners in the geothermal industry.

“We’re beginning to do preliminary-level work; we’ve been looking at data and have a good plan as to how we’re going to draw it together,” he said.

NICTA plans to dedicate six to 12 of its 100-odd machine learning experts to the project, and make outcomes available “on a non-exclusive basis to all partners”.

Addressing the AIIA national board dinner last week, O’Kane noted that the geothermal industry had “a lot of trouble raising capital”.

The Centre for International Economics (pdf) in 2006 reported that geothermal energy could meet Australia’s total electricity requirements for 450 years.

But “tapping our wonderful geothermal resources in Australia is very expensive,” O’Kane said.

“Those of you who have shares in the geothermal companies will know that they haven’t been paying you back a lot recently,” she said.

“I believe we will get something really powerful out of [the NICTA project], so those of you with geothermal shares, watch this space.”

O’Kane highlighted the CSIRO’s Glass Earth project, which commenced in 1998 and aimed to make the top kilometre of the Australian continent “transparent” to the minerals exploration industry.

The Glass Earth project eventually dissolved due to a lack of tools and data. However, O’Kane and Durrant-Whyte said there was now enough data to support the geothermal project.

“There’s a lot more data available now and also lots of different types of data sensors,” Durrant-Whyte said.

“A lot of progress has been made in that area and the second part it: algorithms to data fuse enormous data sets to come up with a reasonable interpretation of what’s going on.”

Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.


Digital drilling: can data unearth geothermal sources?
 
 
 
Top Stories
Frugality as a service: the Amazon story
Behind the scenes, Amazon Web Services is one lean machine.
 
Negotiating with the cloud email megavendors
[Blog post] Lessons from Woolworths’ mammoth migration.
 
Qld govt to move up to 149k staff onto Office 365
Australia's largest deployment, outside of the universities.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...

Latest VideosSee all videos »

The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
Scott Noteboom, CEO of LitBit speaking at The Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2014 in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. http://bit.ly/1qpxVfV Scott Noteboom is a data centre engineer who led builds for Apple and Yahoo in the earliest days of the cloud, and who now eyes Asia as the next big opportunity. Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372482,how-do-we-serve-three-billion-new-internet-users.aspx#ixzz2yNLmMG5C
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
To COTS or not to COTS? iTnews asks Karl Maftoum, CIO of the ACMA, at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
AEMO chief information officer Susan Sly calls for more collaboration among Australia's technology leaders at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Credit Union Australia's David Gee awarded Finance CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Damon Rees named Retail CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Woolworths.
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Acting Foxtel CIO David Marks accepts an iTnews Benchmark Award on behalf of Robyn Elliott.
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Sanjay Mehta named Industrial CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at ConocoPhillips.
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Greg Wells named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at NSW Health.
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
William Confalonieri named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Deakin University.
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
David Johnson named Government CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at the Queensland Police Service.
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott discuss the Coalition's broadband policy with the press.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
The Australian Federal Police have arrested a Sydney-based IT security professional for hacking a government website.
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO Chrissy Burns talks data.
New UTS Building: the IT within
New UTS Building: the IT within
The IT behind tomorrow's universities.
iTnews' NBN Panel
iTnews' NBN Panel
Is your enterprise NBN-ready?
Introducing iTnews Labs
Introducing iTnews Labs
See a timelapse of the iTnews labs being unboxed, set up and switched on! iTnews will produce independent testing of the latest enterprise software to hit the market after installing a purpose-built test lab in Sydney. Watch the installation of two DL380p servers, two HP StoreVirtual 4330 storage arrays and two HP ProCurve 2920 switches.
The True Cost of BYOD
The True Cost of BYOD
iTnews' Brett Winterford gives attendees of the first 'Touch Tomorrow' event in Brisbane a brief look at his research into enterprise mobility. What are the use cases and how can they be quantified? What price should you expect to pay for securing mobile access to corporate applications? What's coming around the corner?
Ghost clouds
Ghost clouds
ACMA chair Chris Chapman says there is uncertainty over whether certain classes of cloud service providers are caught by regulations.
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Privacy experts David Vaile (UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre) and Craig Scroggie (CEO, NextDC) claim they were not surprised by the Snowden leaks about the NSA's PRISM program.
Latest Comments
Polls
Which bank is most likely to suffer an RBS-style meltdown?





   |   View results
ANZ
  21%
 
Bankwest
  9%
 
CommBank
  11%
 
National Australia Bank
  17%
 
Suncorp
  24%
 
Westpac
  19%
TOTAL VOTES: 1455

Vote