HVAC Turns to Geothermal

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One of the biggest trends in the HVAC industry right now is green initiatives. More money and effort than ever before is being invested into technologies that draw on natural resources and energy efficient models to support or form HVAC systems. Solar, as ever, remains a major focus. Relatively traditional methods of hooking photovoltaic systems up to power HVAC systems remains a strong goal for many. However, new areas of renewable resources are also coming in to play to help reduce reliance on grid-powered electricity.

Geothermal Technology in HVAC
Research and development of geothermal heat pump systems have produced machinery that will run on 25-50% less electricity than conventional heating systems. These systems are more efficient than both air-source heat pumps and electric resistance heating. Additionally, geothermal systems not only consume less electricity, but also produce fewer emissions.

Geothermal Availability and Technology Research
As innovative as geothermal technology sounds, it is mostly used in remote areas where resources are already scarce. So the question arises of what areas can take advantage of geothermal power. Southern Methodist University’s Geothermal Laboratory has mapped out the geothermal energy in the United States and calculated that the geothermal resources available in the US could produce more than 10 times the power that coal currently does. Research of geothermal potential in Canada has found that the entire country could be run solely on geothermal energy in as few as 100 projects!

One of the barriers to geothermal energy is the initial drilling process. About half of a geothermal plant’s costs go into drilling. Researchers in China are trying to find ways around this by looking into ways of reusing spent oil drill shafts as founts of geothermal energy. Despite challenges to making geothermal a mainstream source of power, there have also been major successes. After a major geothermal heating system project, however, the city transformed into one of the world’s cleanest cities with almost 90% of its buildings heated by geothermal. Currently, five geothermal plants produce about 26% of all of Iceland’s energy. The remaining 74% is accounted for mostly with hydro power.

This is an exciting time for students still in or planning to attend an HVAC training program. New technologies to help HVAC systems run cleaner and more efficiently are being produced and implemented constantly. Moving into the field now will give beginning HVAC technicians a chance to be at the forefront of green HVAC technology.

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