Fremantle pool goes geothermal

By Julian Bajkowski

Councils across Australia might be looking to the sun to offset the rising costs of municipal pool heating, but in the historic Western Australian City of Fremantle they’re digging for fire to keep bathers warm when in the water.

The innovative council has confirmed that a test-bore it has sunk to tap into underground heat is hotter than expected and will be able to sustainably heat waters at the Freemantle Leisure Centre for “decades to come” thanks to heat pumps that extract warmth from underground.

The move to tap heat from underground is part of an ambitious bid to both reduce both long term energy costs and carbon emissions that are estimated to be around 260 tonnes per year.

“We’re very pleased with the results of the bore, which surpassed our expectations in terms of water temperature and therefore in the amount of geothermal heat energy recoverable,” said City of Fremantle Technical Services Director, Peter Pikor.

“The project is progressing on schedule and the completion of the bore now means we can move into more detailed design work and construction of other aspects of the cogeneration system.”

Fremantle’s deployment of a cogeneration facility means that underground thermal energy will be used to both heat the pool and generate electricity. According to the council the facility uses “shallow geothermal” cogeneration unit because this was the most sustainable.

“Once the geothermal and cogeneration system is fully operational, heated water from the bore will be pumped through the leisure centre’s heat pumps to warm the centre’s two larger pools, with the cool water then re-injected back into the aquifer via a separate injection bore,” the council said.

The installation of the geothermal system is part of a wider $5 million upgrade to the pool during which it would have been closed to swimmers. The upgrade is scheduled for completion in early 2014.

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