There is a massive appetite for geothermal heating and cooling in Australia and it is still largely untapped, according to the managing director and CEO of Alinta Energy, Jeff Dimery.
Speaking at the launch of Alinta Energy Geothermal at the Fairwater housing estate in Blacktown, Sydney, Dimery said the company is backing geothermal technology to deliver more affordable energy to customers.
Following the acquisition of a geothermal heating and cooling business this year, the energy retailer
launched Alinta Energy Geothermal which uses Australian-made geothermal heating and cooling units called GeoAir.
The launch was held at Fairwater, which features more than 800 homes, because it is the largest
residential geothermal installation in the Southern Hemisphere.
Residential installations of GeoAir typically involve drilling a single a 70-80 metre hole to house a ‘loop’ (a metal pipe) filled with refrigerant, which is used to either reject or collect heat from underground, where the temperature remains constant.
“We’ve just had testing back from the CSIRO showing that in lab conditions our units are about twice as efficient as standard air conditioners; and even more on very hot days,” Dimery said.
“It may seem odd for an energy retailer, but we are backing this magnificent technology precisely because it will lower our customers’ energy usage and their monthly or quarterly bills, and put more money back in their hands.
“We want to demonstrate that when we talk about being determined to deliver more affordable energy to our customers – we mean it.”
Dimery said the company is working on a hot water solution to pair with the geothermal units that is
He said the application of this technology isn’t just limited to domestic settings.
"The business has successfully rolled out over 11,000kW of geothermal heating and air conditioning capacity to offices, restaurants, aged care facilities, medical centres and more. We also have in place contracts in place for an additional 18,000 kW,” he said.
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,” he said.
Frasers Property which developed the Fairwater Estate is keen to support geothermal technology.
Frasers Development director, Ray Baksmati said the technology had delivered tangible benefits to the residents of Fairwater, including lower energy costs, and a sense of pride from owning such an innovative technology.
“Frasers Property is very proud to be associated with Alinta Energy Geothermal and is keen to see how Alinta will progress this technology into the wider Australian market,” he said.