BOULDER, Colo. — Geothermal heat pumps and the direct utilization of geothermal resources represent a fast-growing alternative in the heating and cooling market. As demand for electricity expands throughout the world and energy prices increase, the direct use of geothermal, led primarily by heat pumps, is on the rise. According to a new report from Pike Research, geothermal heat pump sales will experience strong growth rates in the next several years, with annual unit shipments in the United States increasing from just fewer than 150,000 in 2011 to more than 326,000 units by 2017.

Pike Research forecasts that the total worldwide capacity for geothermal direct use applications will increase by 179 percent during the same period. The market intelligence firm anticipates that heat pumps will represent a significant majority of the global market for such direct use applications, accounting for 84 percent of total capacity. Other key segments include bathing and swimming applications and space (district) heating.

“The potential for geothermal heat pumps is high, but installations currently represent just 1 percent of the heating and cooling market,” said industry analyst Mackinnon Lawrence. “However, growing electricity demand, rising energy prices, and increasing regulation around emissions and efficiency are all expected to push demand higher. Used on their own, geothermal heat pumps are capable of producing large reductions in energy use and peak demand in buildings. Used in conjunction with clean energy generation and whole-building efficiency measures, the benefits of using heat pumps increase substantially.”

Publication date: 08/01/2011