What is a ground source heat pump (GSHP)?
A ground source heat pump, otherwise known as a geothermal pump or geoexchange heating/ cooling, is a loop based system, which is intended for transferring a considerable amount of heat from a heat source (underground layers, a pond or small lake) to the system’s coolant, which later distributes the accumulated heat throughout the house.
From a thermodynamic point of view, a heat pump represents a thermophysical system, which resembles the functioning of a refrigerator. Still, in contrast to the refrigeration unit the geothermal pump condenser acts as heat exchanger, which generates thermal energy for the consumer. Subsequently, the heat exchange process is further supported by the evaporator unit, which actually absorbs the heat from the coolant and distributes it to the house heating system.
Ground source heat pump: The Facts
- Fact #1: The physics behind the functioning of a GSHP has been know for more than 100 years, but it gained commercial track only after the oil and energy crises of the 1970s.
- Fact #2: According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for every 100,000 units of typically sized residential geothermal heat pumps installed, more than 37.5 trillion Btu’s of energy used for space conditioning and water heating can be saved, corresponding to an emissions reduction of about 2.18 million metric tons of carbon equivalents, and cost savings to consumers of about £495 million over the 20-year-life of the equipment.
- Fact #3: There are about 1 million heat pump systems produced each year in the United States. The pumps are installed exclusively in most of the new residential buildings, this norm being reinforced by the US Federal legislation.
- Fact #4: In Sweden, 50% of the heating demand is covered by heat pumps. While 12% of the Stockholm’s heating needs are taken care of by the ground source heat pumps with a total capacity of 320 MW, using the Baltic Sea as a heat source.
- Fact #5: Germany’s federal government oversees a state subsidy scheme, which grants around £140 for each kW of installed heating capacity that comes from a heat pump.
- Fact #6: A ground source heat pump system was even installed in a well known high rise building from New York, namely - Empire State Building.
- Fact #7: According to the World Energy Council forecasts, geothermal pumps will make up 75% of the world’s heating supply in 2020.
- Fact #8: It’s been estimated that every 100,000 homes with ground source heat pump systems will help reduce foreign oil consumption by 2.15 million barrels per year and lower electricity consumption by 799 million kilowatt hours annually.
- Fact #9: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that ground source heat pumps that are used for heating as well as for cooling can reduce energy consumption—and corresponding emissions—by more than 40% compared to air source heat pumps and by over 70% compared to electric resistance heating with standard air-conditioning equipment.
- Fact #10: Compared to conventional heating or cooling systems, a geothermal pump can ensure savings of up to 70% (20% - 70%) on heating bills, and up to 50% (20% - 50%) when it comes to air conditioning.
- United Sates Environmental Protection Agency, Space Conditioning: The Next Frontier, Office of Air and Radiation, 430-R-93-004.
- U.S. General Accounting Office, Geothermal Energy, Outlook Limited for Some Uses but Promising for Geothermal, (6/94).
- Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium, Inc
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