The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced a grant of $500,000 in funding to Climate-KIC Australia to carry out a three-year longitudinal study on the benefits of geothermal energy in the residential sector and greenfield estates.
Under the $1.7m project, a study will be carried out on commercial-scale demonstration of renewable ground-source heat pumps being deployed in the Fairwater master-planned residential community in Blacktown, Western Sydney.
Climate-KIC is expected to lead the project team including University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Curtin University, Wattwatchers and the Green Building Council of Australia, with $180,000 each of funding along with support over three years from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and and the developer of Fairwater, Frasers Property Australia.
Upon completion, the project is expected to establish a business case for industry-wide adoption of ground-source heat pumps within local, renewable and efficient energy systems. Geothermal heat pump systems are expected to supply heating and cooling for more than 800 new dwellings in the Fairwater precinct.
Based on the living laboratories concept, the project will using existing buildings to evaluate performance of energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project would address the potential of using geothermal energy to power households.
Miller said: “Ground sourced thermal energy being installed in new housing estates could reduce energy consumption and cost as well as benefiting the network by lowering peak demand and the associated need to invest in expensive infrastructure.”
Project lead investigator Leena Thomas from UTS said that the Fairwater Living Laboratory will include detailed energy and environmental monitoring, community engagement, and feedback from residents about their everyday experience of the homes and the precinct.
Thomas added: “The research will deliver a better understanding of the opportunities and barriers for wider adoption of the innovative geothermal heat pumps and other sustainable design features included at Fairwater.
“Additionally, the living laboratory offers a unique opportunity for our cross disciplinary team of experts from architecture and building to science, health and sustainable futures, to evaluate how this six star Green Star precinct performs in terms of sustainability, resilience, commerciality, health and wellbeing.”