Geo in the News

Geothermal heating and cooling systems are getting into the news! Here are a few articles about them:

In this Forbes Magazine article, dated February 28, 2014, How Geothermal Heat Pumps Can Soar Like Solar, contributor Tom Konrad reports:

Not only can GHPs cut energy costs for heating and cooling by up to 80%, they can also provide other benefits such as essentially free hot water when in cooling mode, lower reliance on fossil fuels, and the elimination of above ground outdoor equipment. These advantages have earned GHPs a small but dedicated cult of true believers, but not broad market acceptance.

The world has not yet beaten a path to the GHP door. Instead, GHPs have a slim and only modestly growing market share. A study by Frost and Sullivan projects the market for GHPs in North American commercial buildings to grow at a 7.8% annual rate from 2012, 4.7% faster than the North American climate control market as a whole. An industry representative pointed me to a Navigant study which projects the world installed base to grow from 13.3 million tons to 36.2 million tons in 2020, see chart below…

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In the November 8, 2012 issue of Renewable Energy, the World’s #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information & Companies, Chris Williams, of HeatSpring, reports How New England Can Eliminate Oil Use For Single Family Homes for Less Than We’re Spending on Solar PV. Here is an excerpt:

At Renewable Energy Vermont 2012, I delivered a presentation on how a production-based incentive for renewable thermal technologies, like the $29/MWh incentive in New Hampshire, would be cheaper than the current solar PV incentive in Vermont and could have a larger impact. The current incentive for solar PV in Vermont is $271/MWh for 25 years, but we could eliminate oil use for single family homes with a policy for renewable thermal technologies of $100/MWh guaranteed for five years. This policy would be much cheaper than the solar PV incentive and would drastically increase the adoption of biomass, air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps. It would put a huge dent in oil consumption for single family homes, save money and create local jobs. If you’re new or curious about thermal incentives, Renewable Energy World has done some great reporting on it.

As I started to run the numbers when I was creating the presentation, I was blown away by how much energy renewable thermal technologies produced, and how valuable that energy is when displacing oil, propane and electricity. Many attendees at the talk had never seen the numbers broken out in a way that easily compares apples to apples. However, as any engineer knows, converting kWs to tons to BTUs is relatively simple. When we compare these technologies in the same terms, it starts to provide a very clear picture of the results that can be achieved by investing in proven renewable energy thermal technologies. These technologies include solar thermal systems, geothermal/ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps, and biomass.

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