Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Ground heating to meet 2020 targets

Hundreds of thousands of homes and commercial properties could soon be heated by energy coming from the ground, according to a report from the Environment Agency.

So far, there are only around 8,000 ground source heat pumps installed in the UK, a much smaller number than other European countries, but a significant increase on last year when there were 4,000.

However, the Environment Agency has said that 320,000 could be installed by 2020, and if support support is given from the Renewable Heat Incentive which comes in in 2012, that number could rise to 1M. The incentive would see home owners and businesses paid for generating renewable heat.

It is hoped that the renewable energy source could be implemented in 40% of commercial buildings and more than 1 in 10 homes, but even if it remains at only 320,000 homes and businesses it could still provide the 30% of renewable heat needed to hit 2020 targets.

Tony Grayling, head of climate change and sustainable development at the Environment Agency, said: “Ground source heating is a rapidly growing technology that has the potential to produce at least 30% of the country’s renewable heat needs, but it needs financial support in order to grow.

“We would like to see this technology given adequate financial support through the new renewable heat incentive to meet its full potential in the UK.”

Readers' comments (6)

  • Will sucking this heat from the ground and releasing it into the air contibute to global warming? Add this to the energy used to fuel the system, I would say yes. What is the alternative, put on another fur coat? Or has that been tried?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Don,

    If you knew anything about geothermal heating you would not have made that comment. Ground source heat pumps work llike a fridge in reverse. The energy required to operate them is minimal. They do not steal heat from the ground. They use compressed gas. They dont need to be under the ground at all if you have the space to run the pipe. its just easier to drill straight down then run 30+ meters of pipe around your garden. Research it and you will see the benefits for yourself.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Luke O'Rafferty

    A common statistic used for ground heat pumps is that they produce around three times as much energy as put into them. Sounds like it could be a winner to me.

    Am I right in thinking they can be run in reverse to cool buildings as well?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Chaps

    Just to be clear -

    A GSHP takes thermal energy from the ground (typically 3-4 deg C delta T) via a ground loop and the heat pump then uses this delta T to create warm water via compressors for use in heating systems. It is also reversable with the right heat pump to generate cooling ie dumping heat back into the ground. The system is "recharged" if you like by incoming solar energy acting on the ground.

    So in summary

    1) They do take heat from the ground
    2) They can be reversed to provide cooling
    3) No they do not add to global warming as more solar radiation is absorbed by the earth that has been cooled in the ground from the GSHP process.
    4) Fur coats will rot and produce methane which is a much, much worse green house gas!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Michael. I like your comments. And thanks for clearing that up for everyone. i'm sure they are a lot of us who were not too clear on the issue.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I'm not sure why ground source heating systems are any more renewable than any other electrically driven equipment. Yes the COP provided by a heat pump and the low delta T provided by ground source makes it much more efficient than a pure resistive heat source, but its electric, which will always mean that only about a third of energy of the primary fuel is delivered to site what with generation and line losses etc. So surely burning a fuel on site will be more efficient in energy and CO2 especially if condensing boilers or CHP is utilised. Ground source will really only be zero CO2 if when we achieve a 100% Nuclear and solar powered grid/embedded supply.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.