WASHINGTON — In April, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a funding bill for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for fiscal year (FY) 2013. The legislation encourages DOE to provide no less than $10 million “to support research, development, and strategic deployment of geothermal heat pump (GHP) technology.”

The bill has since been approved. Following a request from DOE for industry input into how the funds might be spent, the GEO board of directors, staff, and selected industry members collaborated in late-July to present the following ideas.

Standardized Method to Measure Thermal Load Avoided by GHPs

A few states have allowed thermal renewable resources, including GHPs, as a compliance option under their Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS) mandates. A standardized measurement method for thermal load avoided by GHPs would facilitate their adoption for REPS compliance. DOE should develop a process and standards for determining thermal load avoided by the installation of GHPs across the United States. The standards should include measurements for determining heating energy reduction, peak demand reduction, CO2 emission reduction, etc. The goal is to provide an incentive for utilities to promote installation of GHPs.

Development of Improved Ratings Method for GHP and HVAC Systems

With available expertise at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, DOE should improve the ratings system for comparing various HVAC systems. The current system is based on a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) based on 80-degree ambient temperature for cooling. A new rating system based on an Energy Efficient Rating (EER) using 95° or 100°F ambient temperature should be developed. The new rating system would improve electricity peak demand reduction analyses and accurately demonstrate GHP efficiency over air-to-air heat pumps and a/c units.

These and numerous other GEO requests were listed in their latest report to members.

For more information, visit www.geoexchange.org.

Publication date: 9/10/2012