Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are one of the most widespread forms of geothermal energy technology. They utilise the near-constant temperature of the ground below the frost line to achieve energy-efficiencies two or three times that of conventional air-conditioners, consequently allowing a significant offset in electricity demand for space heating and cooling. Relatively mature GSHP markets are established in Europe and North America. GSHP implementation in Australia, however, is limited, due to high capital price, uncertainties regarding optimum designs for the Australian climate, and limited consumer confidence in the technology. Existing GSHP design standards developed in the Northern Hemisphere are likely to lead to suboptimal performance in Australia where demand might be much more cooling-dominated. There is an urgent need to develop Australia’s own GSHP system optimisation principles on top of the industry standards to provide confidence to bring the GSHP market out of its infancy. To assist in this, the Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence (QGECE) has commissioned a fully instrumented GSHP experimental facility in Gatton, Australia, as a publically-accessible demonstration of the technology and a platform for systematic studies of GSHPs, including optimisation of design and operations. This paper presents a brief review on current GSHP use in Australia, the technical details of the Gatton GSHP facility, and an analysis on the observed cooling performance of this facility to date.
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