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Report suggests new technologies could deliver significant energy savings for aquatic centres

April 13, 2016

With heating and other energy costs accounting for around 11% of total expenditure in aquatic facilities, a sum second only to labour expenses, finding innovative and cost effective ways to source and conserve energy are high on the list of priorities for aquatic facility managers.

Mindful of this, ATCO Gas Australia have backed a report assessing energy technologies at 37 West Australian metropolitan aquatic centres.

Released at the Leisure Institute of WA (LIWA) Aquatics conference in Fremantle last year, Reducing Energy Expenditure in Western Australian Aquatic Centres equips aquatic centre managers with in-depth analysis of available technologies which are providing proven cost savings and environmental benefits for the industry.

Introducing the report, LIWA Aquatics President Jeff Fondacaro explains “we have worked hard in establishing relationships to demonstrate that as an industry we have a clear focus on sustainability and cost reduction.

“LIWA Aquatics advocates strongly to members and stakeholders the importance of embracing sustainable alternatives and looking at new technologies.

“This report provides relevant background information on a range of energy saving technologies and promotes potential opportunities in the area of cogeneration systems that are providing very substantial economic gains in aquatic facilities on the east coast of Australia.”

The report examines a variety of energy technologies including natural gas powered cogeneration, solar PV, solar thermal, geothermal and ground-source heat pumps and suggests there is the potential to deliver significant industry savings.

Based on the 37 aquatic centres in the survey, the report suggests that, collectively, they could achieve energy savings of well over $2.45 million per year, or more than $36 million over a 15 year investment period - an average return on capital invested of around 15% per annum.  These initiatives would reduce the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 4.2 million tonnes of carbon – equivalent to taking about 60,000 cars off the road for 15 years.

The report’s Executive Summary explains “aquatic centres are increasingly becoming more interested in heating their swimming pool facilities all year round to encourage greater patronage and open up the potential to offer more services.

“Heating and other energy costs, at up to 11% of total expenditures, are the single largest expense items for aquatic centres after labour.

“Gas and electricity usage have generally been increasing and aquatic centre managers require information on technology options that ensure the highest levels of energy efficiency, while enhancing visitors’ enjoyment of swimming facilities all year round.

“There are a broad range of energy options that offer higher efficiency, lower cost and greater amenity and .... their relative merit is based on a range of factors (of which) the most important factors are the present and future prices of gas and electricity, the capital costs of equipment and installation, the ongoing direct costs and indirect costs such as maintenance and the useful life of the equipment.

“Of the different technology options, cogeneration has been shown to be the most attractive form of energy generation providing heat and electricity efficiently and cost-effectively.

“Solar PV can also play a significant role in aquatic centres. Geothermal energy has a limited role while solar thermal and ground-source heat pumps don’t appear to be the most effective choices for reducing energy expenditure.”

Highlighting that aquatic industry been slow to adopt these technologies, the report suggests a range of  common reasons, “based on interviews with aquatic centre management, operators and owners”, for not installing energy savings technologies.

These are:

Capital availability - “There is inadequate capital available to fund the acquisition of equipment, notwithstanding the anticipated operating savings”

Split or competing incentives - “The potential future savings will not be redeployed within the aquatic centre and so the incentive to deploy solutions is limited”

Procurement issues - “Government procurements processes are slow, result in relatively expensive implementations and have a chequered history”

Risks - “Owners and operators do not get rewarded sufficiently to take the risk associated with relatively innovative technologies and equipment.”

However, the report concludes that obstacles to energy saving technology “are not insurmountable”, stating “success in other countries and eastern states of Australia have proven that working through the challenges provides cost savings that would allow aquatics centres to run more efficiently and effectively which, ultimately, benefits the wider community who are often bearing the costs through entrance fees, rates and taxes.”

Click here to download the Reducing Energy Expenditure in Western Australia Aquatic Centres report.

ATCO Gas Australia owns, operates and maintains the largest gas infrastructure network in Western Australia.

Earlier this month, Aquatics and Recreation Victoria, in conjunction with Deakin University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment, released the results of a two year study into the energy usage and indoor environmental quality of Victorian aquatic and recreation facilities.

The study, entitled A Guide For Benchmarking Energy and the Indoor Environmental Quality of Aquatic Centres in Victoria, sets out to develop benchmarking guidelines for designing and operating aquatic centres in Victoria.

Images: A congeneration unit at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre (top) and Goldfields Oasis aquatic and recreation centre in Kalgoorlie - an acknowledged leader in energy efficient swimming pools management (below).

1st April 2016 - AQUATICS AND RECREATION VICTORIA RELEASES ENERGY BENCHMARKING STUDY FOR AQUATIC CENTRES

9th March 2016 - LIWA AQUATICS TO PRESENT NEW WATCH AROUND WATER ‘FACILITY OF THE YEAR’ AWARD

4th March 2016 - CEFC PROGRAM TO ACCELERATE LOCAL GOVERNMENT INVESTMENT IN RENEWABLES 

4th November 2015 - TRIGENERATION POWER PLANTS TO BOOST ENERGY EFFICIENCY AT CITY OF SYDNEY POOLS

5th May 2015 - COGENERATION INSTALLATION LEADS TO ENERGY COST SAVINGS AT WAGGA WAGGA OASIS AQUATIC CENTRE

28th May 2014 - GOLDFIELDS OASIS ENERGY EFFICIENCY WINS GOVERNMENT APPROVAL

13th September 2012 - WA COUNCILS REDUCE AQUATIC CENTRE RUNNING COSTS

 

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