A seawater heat exchanger, which it is claimed will be the largest in the world, is to be installed alongside the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Sydney’s Circular Quay.

The exchanger will circulate cold water for airconditioning in heritage buildings at the north end of George Street in The Rocks. The warmed water will be drawn away and returned to the heat exchanger to be recooled before repeating the cycle.

The system, which will provide heating as well as cooling,  will remove the need for airconditioning units on the buildings which would damage their historic integrity.

The exchanger, a matrix of high-density pipes measuring some 40,000 square metres, will be at a depth of 12 metres and so will not be a shipping hazard.

This type of system is currently used in at least five other locations within Sydney Harbour:

  • The Sydney Opera House
  • Star City Casino
  • The Australian National Maritime Museum
  • Harbourside Shopping Complex and
  • North Sydney Olympic Swimming Pool.

New South Wales Minister for Lands, Tony Kelly, said that  “The system would allow the water consumption of the buildings and the maintenance costs of the heat rejection equipment to be reduced by 70-90 per cent. In total, the heat exchange system could deliver savings of at least 23 per cent in energy consumption compared with conventional cooling towers or boilers.”

Tenders close next month with the system expected to be in place within two years.