You're almost certainly reading this from your computer. This story is stored on a server somewhere. Servers use electricity...the numbers of servers needed to give you access to all this information you and the rest of the world are using is a significant percentage of the world's electricity consumption. Google is the largest single electricity user in some states . One Austin utility sends 8.5% of its power to server farms. Electricity is not only used to power the computers, but to keep them cool. Connecting the cooling systems to the ground
could be the basis for some interesting systems. Server farms are literally warehouses, some the size of several football fields, full of computers. Some are located near generating stations because of the proximity to their power source, and use enough energy to service thousands of homes. For more of the dirty details read this article by Jane Anne Morris. For more photos of Google's servers click here.
The keeping the servers cool part is where a GHX can help use the waste heat emanating from the servers more effectively. Google, Amazon, Ebay and hundreds of other large companies have server farms all over the world. Some are located near, or even on the ocean to allow them to dump waste heat into the water.
If the servers were located near a town in a colder climate...northern Europe, northern U.S. or Canada, for example, the waste energy could be rejected into a GHX. The energy could be extracted from the GHX by homes and other nearby buildings. Heat pumps located in the buildings could extract heat from the warm GHX. The continuous injection of heat to the GHX does two things:
It's a win-win scenario. The cooling system for the servers operates more efficiently than if it had to dump heat through a cooling tower. Homeowners benefit with even lower energy bills than a typical ground coupled heat pump system. This concept is already being implemented in the Town of Gibsons, BC, where the local hockey arena is the heat source for a district geothermal system with 750 homes.
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.