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Geothermal Energy
What is geothermal energy?

Geothermal energy is a type of renewable energy that uses a thermal energy source that has been generated and stored in the earth to generate electricity. Unlike wind or solar, geothermal energy can be harvested continuously – day, night and all year round.

To generate electricity on a large scale, geothermal power plants harvest steam from reservoirs of hot water or rocks miles below the Earth’s surface. However, there are also simpler domestic applications of geothermal energy.

Renewable geothermal energy can be used to directly heat and cool buildings, helping to reduce not only our greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint, but also the everyday costs associated with warming or cooling a home.

So how does it work? Geothermal heating or cooling systems work by pumping water or refrigerant underground to a depth of 40–80m and back to the surface again. While underground, the refrigerant assumes the same temperature as the surrounding earth, which is much cooler than the air in summer and much warmer in winter.

In winter, a heat pump extracts the heat contained in the circulating fluid to heat the building. In summer the system is reversed, with heat taken out of the building and transferred underground via the fluid. The heating and cooling components inside the home are the same as in a standard ducted system.

Geothermal energy is a relatively new technology in Australia, but it is already attracting attention. The developer Australand has been trialling GeoAir geothermal heating and cooling from QPS Geothermal at its Sales and Information Centre at Botanica in Lidcombe. It is also on offer to buyers at The Hermitage sub-development in Sydney. Commercially, AGL has partnered with QPS to install GeoAir at Maroondah Sports Club in Melbourne.

More recently, Australand announced that around 800 new home sites at its Fairwater community development at Blacktown in Western Sydney will incorporate provision for GeoAir heating and cooling. It will be the largest residential development in the country to use geothermal heating and cooling technology.

With its cost savings and environmental benefits, geothermal heating and cooling could be the next innovation to take Australian residential housing by storm.

Source: realestate.com.au

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