Alinta Energy has revealed a major commitment to geothermal heating and cooling with the creation of Alinta Energy Geothermal. The new company division was officially launched at the Fairwater housing estate in Sydney, where more than 800 homes will be served by geothermal heating and cooling in NSW’s first 6 star Green Star community.
The development uses Australian-made units called GeoAir from QPS Geothermal, a company that Alinta Energy purchased in mid-2018. According to the company, new CSIRO tests show that the units are about twice as efficient as a standard air conditioner with a claimed energy co-efficient of 6.75 compared to about 3.2. This could equate to a saving of $713 to $1,069 per year.
Geothermal systems for heating and cooling work in much the same way as conventional direct exchange (DX) systems – except that the condensing loop is installed in the ground to take advantage of stable sub-surface temperatures. It is still a relatively new concept in Australia, although it has been around for more than 60 years.
Alinta Energy Managing Director and CEO Jeff Dimery says the acquisition and launch of the business represents the biggest commercial backing of geothermal heating and cooling technology in Australia.
“There is a massive untapped, but growing, appetite for geothermal heating and cooling in Australia,” he said.
The Fairwater housing estate is being developed by Frasers Property and aims to provide home owners with sustainability benefits into the future.
All houses will be connected to their own heat pump and geothermal loop, which is expected to reduce household heating and cooling energy costs by more than 60 per cent. It is the largest residential geothermal installation in the southern hemisphere.
Dimery says the company is developing a suite of complementary technologies to pair with the GeoAir units to dramatically improve the energy efficiency of new homes.
“We’re working on a hot water solution to pair with the geothermal units that is very promising. Heating and cooling represents around 40 per cent of household energy usage, and water heating is another 20 per cent. So, once you plug in solar panels, geothermal heating, cooling and hot water, and even a battery – that’s going to lower the costs of electrical and gas infrastructure in new housing developments and get those monthly bills right down for residents.”