ARENA wants to study the benefits of geothermal energy in the residential sector and greenfield estates.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $500,000 in funding to Climate-KIC Australia for a three-year longitudinal study of geothermal technology.

It is part of a $1.7 million project that will include a commercial-scale demonstration of renewable ground-source heat pumps being deployed in the Fairwater residential community in Blacktown, Western Sydney.

Geothermal heat pump systems will supply heating and cooling to each of the over 800 new dwellings in the Fairwater precinct.

The project aims to use existing buildings to evaluate performance of energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project would demonstrate the potential of using geothermal energy to power households.

“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,” Mr Miller said.

“If successful, this study could help demonstrate the value of geothermal energy to greenfield developers, potentially seeing further housing developments implement this renewable technology,” he said.

Climate-KIC will lead the project team comprising University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Curtin University, Wattwatchers and the Green Building Council of Australia, with $180,000 each of funding as well as in-kind support over three years from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and the developer of Fairwater, Frasers Property Australia.

If successful, the project will pave the way by establishing a business case for industry-wide adoption of ground-source heat pumps within local, renewable and efficient energy systems.