If you lived in Canada or the northern States you're probably not looking forward to another winter after the record cold and snow we experienced. Winnipeg, MB had the coldest winter since 1898! That erased most of the memories we had from only two years earlier when we had one of the warmest years on record. What happens to a GHX when we go through extreme weather events like that?
The Oasis Leisure Centre in Kalgoorlie Boulder, WA, is now heated by one of the largest closed loop geothermal systems in the State. The system is unique in a couple of respects. Even though the facility is in a hot climate, with summer temperatures as high as 46°C (115°F) and deep earth temperatures at 23.5°C (74.3°F), the building requires more heating than cooling. There are two reasons for this:
The best system diagnostic tool you can have as a GCHP system designer, a service technician, a building manager or owner, is an ongoing record of the fluid temperature leaving the GHX and entering the heat pump. This can tell you if the system is operating as it should or not. What does this mean for the different stakeholders of a system?
About 2% of new commercial buildings in North America in the last few years have been built with a GCHP system, and few building managers have had the opportunity to operate a building with a GHX. What are these pipes coming in from the ground around the building? What do they do? What can I expect from them? How do I control the temperature of the heat transfer fluid coming from the ground?
Operators of an electric utility have a challenging job. Without enough power a city doesn't function. Someone has to ensure the generating stations are running properly and there is enough fuel to stockpiled to ensure the continue to run. They have to have a good understanding of how their customers will be running their homes and businesses and predict how many generating stations they will need this afternoon. It gets more complicated when unpredictable energy sources such as wind or photo voltaic cells are brought into the mix, or when a nuclear plant that takes time to shut down or ramp up. They are constantly monitoring energy consumption on a district wide scale, and may even monitor the energy consumption of their larger customers continuously and ask them to notify them of changes to their power consumption.
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.