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June 11, 2009 – 3:45PM

More than 17,000 jobs could be created in the geothermal energy industry by 2050, a new report says.

The geothermal industry, which involves extracting heat stored in the earth to generate power, is growing in Australia with almost 400 tenements for projects and around $1.5 billion in projects underway.

WWF and the Australian Geothermal Energy Association (AGEA) on Thursday released a report, Power to Change: Australia’s Geothermal Future.

Paul Toni from WWF says the report is the first in a series looking into the potential of geothermal energy.

“The energy stored in hot rocks near the earth’s surface in Australia is a thousand-fold what we use each and every year,” Mr Toni said.

“We must reshape our economy and our energy sector if we are serious about tackling climate change.

“Capable of running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, geothermal energy is one of the vital clean energy resources needed to make this transformation.”

He said the Cooper Basin, which overlaps the borders of Queensland, NSW and South Australia, holds enormous potential for geothermal electricity.

AGEA chief executive Susan Jeanes says Australia has the chance to be a world leader in geothermal technology.

“This industry provides opportunities for workers to move from industries like coal, oil and gas, into clean energy jobs as much of the technology and expertise is transferable,” Ms Jeanes said.

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