I've spent the last couple of weeks in Australia. Probably the biggest reason I'm here is the increase in the cost of electricity in Australia in recent years. Since 2007, the price of electricity has increased more in Australia than most other places. The main reasons for the increase include increased use of household appliances (air conditioning, entertainment), capital cost expenditures to improve distribution grid, and the addition of a 9% carbon tax. How can the GCHP industry help?
GCHP systems move energy between a building and the ground. A well designed GCHP system provides both heating and cooling more efficiently than conventional heating and cooling systems. According to a report by the Australian Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, the electrical grid, the poles and wires, must be upgraded to enable it to meet the peak demand created only about 100 hours per year...at a cost of approximately $11 billion.
A GCHP system reduces electricity demand when air conditioning by around 35% to 45% compared to inefficient air cooled condensers - roof mounted cooling units, window mounted cooling units, etc. Compared to a typical chiller, a GCHP system can reduce peak electrical demand by 15% to 25%, and can eliminate or greatly reduce the demand for water needed to operate a cooling tower.
When integrated with thermal energy storage systems, GCHP systems can reduce electrical demand during peak times by as much as 60% to 70% compared to a conventional cooling system.
Building regulations and building codes can be used to create policies that encourage the use of more efficient cooling systems. Consideration could be given to the use of double pain, reflective glass, better air sealing and better insulation in homes and buildings to help reduce cooling loads. Reducing electrical demand by implementing demand reduction measures may be much less expensive than building the infrastructure to meet increased demand for 100 hours per year.
In my blog I'll be expressing my opinions about what I've the learned about ground coupled heat pump (GCHP) systems over the last 30 years. I've been very fortunate to work with many interesting people who are passionate about this technology...engineers, geologists, mechanical contractors, drillers, excavation contractors...in different parts of the world. I've learned a lot from them and will be using this forum to pass on some of the things I've learned and feel are important. Please feel free to use this information if you feel it's worthwhile...hopefully you can avoid some of the same mistakes I've learned from.