Turning Geothermal Energy into a Hot HVAC Technology

One way to ensure that your facility remains up and running is to invest in the most up-to-date HVAC equipment and technologies. And one of the hottest HVAC technologies this year is geothermal technology.

Geothermal heat pump systems, for example, use 25%-50% less electricity than conventional heating or cooling systems. And they can reduce energy consumption – and corresponding emissions – up to 44% compared to air-source heat pumps and up to 72% compared to electric resistance heating with standard air-conditioning equipment, according to the EPA.

But while more companies are engaged in developing geothermal resources, it still seems to be “that enticing but forever elusive next big technological thing,” sustainability author Chris Turner says in this article.

Using geothermal energy more than we do seems like “the ultimate no brainer,” especially since there is an abundance of the fuel source “trapped no more than a few dozen yards under your feet,” Turner says.

. . . [F]or some reason it’s forever the exception, the striking novelty that never gets copied, industrialized, mainstreamed,” he says.

To highlight the benefits of using geothermal energy, Turner points to an “amazing” building he visited in Germany a little while back. The building, designed by SANAA, the Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architectural firm, was built on the grounds of an old coal mine.

The SANAA architects noticed that the operators of the Zollverein complex were constantly pumping water out of the defunct coal mines so the ground wouldn’t get too soft and spongy for the buildings above.

The architects rerouted that stormwater, which was more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit at the surface, through a “tight web of pipes in the walls of their building,” and were able to handle all of its heating and cooling needs without any insulation or external energy supplies.

“It was a brilliant application of geothermal energy,” Turner says.

But although we do use geothermal energy – it’s used extensively in remote parts of the world – we don’t use it nearly enough. But why is that? Turner asks.

Recently Southern Methodist University’s Geothermal Laboratory mapped the available geothermal resources for the entire US. The researchers discovered that there was enough readily available geothermal energy to produce 10 times as much electricity as coal currently does.

And a recent report by the Geological Survey of Canada found that with as few as 100 projects, geothermal could replace all of the country’s current electricity supply. Canada could be entirely powered by geothermal.

Turner says researchers in China are working on designing systems to harness the heat that’s trapped in depleted oil wells. According to New Scientist, “as much as half the cost of geothermal power plants comes from drilling.” Turner says that could keep the costs of drilling for geothermal energy down.

Finally, Turner wonders if we’re finally “on the cusp of a global geothermal boom.” Although it’s still too early to tell, he says all signs point to yes.

As one of the authors of the Geological Survey of Canada says, “It is just silly not to take advantage of a heat source like this.”

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4 comments


  • […] more from the original source: Turning Geothermal Energy into a Hot HVAC Technology | Just … This entry was posted in HVAC and tagged and-running, building, geothermal-technology-, […]

    February 21, 2012
  • Geothermal is going to become a bigger and bigger deal in the years to come. There are huge energy savings to be had from it that can no longer be ignored.

    February 23, 2012
  • Geothermal energy is now becoming more efficient and cost effective. Each year new ideas in this emerging industry makes it more and more practical as an option in the Hvac solutions.

    March 16, 2012
  • I agree. Ground Source Geo has huge prommise for utility savings, resource conservatiion and pollution reduction. The ROI’s and technologies are improving and with new construction are hard to ignore. It is a brilliant sustainable energy technology that is lacking the support it deserves. learn more in this months http://www.nationalenergypress.com newsletter.

    June 19, 2012

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