The West

Harnessing ground heat
Warren District Renewable Energy Group’s Terry Macfarlane and Gill Knowles and Manjimup Regional Aqua Centre’s Mal Neal at the ground source heat test site.

Manjimup Regional Aqua Centre has become the first leisure centre in WA to pilot an innovative renewable energy scheme which could slash heating bills by more than $250,000 in the next three-and-a-half years.

Test equipment has been installed outside the centre to test how ground source heat pumps can be used to regulate the temperature of the swimming pool.

The two-month trial is collecting data at depths to 2.4 metres before the new technology is integrated alongside current air source heat pumps next year.

Council Recreation Services manager Mal Neal said it was an exciting development for the Aqua Centre and swimming pool users.

‘‘In winter particularly the current air source heat pumps are very inefficient, so the cost associated with heating a venue of this size is considerable,’’ Mr Neal said.

‘‘For us it’s about reducing our operating costs and being able to implement a more constant heating source, while for the community it will provide a more enjoyable experience when they use the facility.’’

The project is being paid for with $258,000 from the Federal Government’s Community Energy Efficiency Program, which is funded by revenue from the carbon tax.

Manjimup Shire Council is contributing another $258,000, which the ground source heat pumps will effectively pay back within threeand-a-half years.

The Federal Government requires a community group to be involved with the project — a role fulfilled by the Warren District Renewable Energy Group.

Group chairman Gill Knowles said he hoped the trial could be used as an educational tool to teach schoolchildren about the benefits of renewable energies.

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