Newcastle swimmers benefit from solar thermal project


Tuesday, 15 April, 2014


With the Wallsend Swimming Centre hosting a small-scale solar thermal demonstration plant which will heat its pool and provide electricity for the site, Newcastle residents will now be able to enjoy year-round swimming.

The first of its kind, the GRANEX demonstration plant comprises a 200-kilowatt field of parabolic solar collectors plus related power block and thermal storage elements. GRANEX is a heat conversion technology that generates low-cost, zero-carbon emission electricity from any available heat sources, such as industrial waste heat, solar and geothermal energy sources.

The project could save Wallsend Swimming Centre hundreds of dollars on its annual power bills.

“The 200-kilowatt solar field will generate 30 kilowatts of electrical output and 150 kilowatts of heat for the swimming pool,” said Ivor Frischknecht, CEO of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

“The GRANEX technology efficiently turns low-grade waste heat into electricity, which increases the amount of energy that can be generated from the solar thermal field.”

The project has implications that reach further than just heating the local pool. GRANEX inventor Professor Behdad Moghtaderi from the University of Newcastle says the project has the potential to reduce fuel use in remote communities and industrial sites that currently rely on diesel power generation.

The $1.7 million project has received $812,000 in funding from ARENA. It was designed and constructed by Granite Power.

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