WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it will offer nearly $50 million in funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to accelerate the deployment of geothermal heat pumps (GHPs). Also referred to as ground-source heat pumps, GHPs generally achieve higher efficiencies than air-source heat pumps, because the ground maintains a relatively stable temperature throughout the year, even during heat waves and extreme cold snaps. They can provide space heating and cooling and water heating for residential and commercial buildings. According to the DOE, GHPs can substantially reduce the electricity demand for buildings, providing building owners and residents with lower utility bills and reduced maintenance costs.

To accelerate the deployment of GHPs, DOE will offer funding for cost-shared technology demonstration projects that provide a minimum of 50 tons of heating and cooling capacity. Ideally, the projects will use technologies that can be deployed in various geological conditions and climate zones and in either residential communities or commercial buildings. The selected projects will incorporate innovative business and financing strategies and will focus on technological improvements that will speed the adoption of GHPs for buildings throughout the country. To help achieve that goal, DOE will also offer funding for life-cycle cost tools that will help evaluate the feasibility of using GHPs. The tools will be used to analyze the costs and benefits of various systems and installation techniques over their entire operating lifetime. DOE will also fund the creation of a national certification and accreditation program for the GHP industry.

Publication date:06/08/2009