Texas neighborhood to be built atop largest residential geothermal grid

Texas neighborhood to be built atop largest residential geothermal grid Texas State Capitol Building - Austin, Texas (source: Jonathan Cutrer / flickr, Creative Commons)
Carlo Cariaga 2 Sep 2022

The Whisper Valley community in Austin, Texas is set to benefit from a large-scale geothermal heating and cooling grid with about 80% of energy savings.

The Whisper Valley community, a neighborhood being constructed just outside of Austin, Texas, is being built atop a geothermal grid that is the largest ever created for a residential community. With geothermal heating, solar panels, and battery backups, homes in the community are expected to get about 80% savings in terms of total energy consumption.

Construction of the 7,000-acre housing development is still in the early stages but is planned to have more than 7,500 homes over the next decade. Before the foundations of these homes were built, boreholes to 30o feet depth had already been drilled in front of very lot. These are then connected via piping to complete the geothermal grid.

EcoSmart Solutions, a subsidiary of Taurus Investment Holdings, built the energy centers that will be pumping water to the boreholes to access the subsurface temperatures. An electrical furnace in each home will supply heat from the geothermal boreholes. Each home will also have solar panels to provide the requisite power. An optional battery backup storage will store power from the solar panels for use at night.

The homes at Whisper Valley are about USD 10,000 more expensive than the median price of homes in the region, but developers say that buyers should quickly earn this back in energy savings. “With the investment of geothermal, the day you move in it’s going to be saving you money. And so we look at it as an investment not as much of a cost increase,” said Michael Thurman of Thurman Homes, one of five builders for the project.

The homeowners will also be eligible to receive tax credits because of the use of solar and geothermal energy in their homes. Government incentives, most notably those included in the Inflation Reduction Act, have helped in making geothermal projects more attractive for investors.

“Investors need to have certainty, and without certainty, they stay on the sidelines,” said EcoSmart Chief Technology Officer Greg Wolfson. “There will now be projects that weren’t quite viable or were questionable, that are now much more viable, and that means that homeowners will have access to this where they wouldn’t otherwise had on a mass scale.”

Source: CNBC