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GEOTHERMAL HEATING, HARNESSING THE POWER BENEATH OUR FEET

26. March 2021 | 5 min read

Low energy housing is a key objective of the European Green Deal. As part of the drive towards a decarbonized economy by 2050, the residential and commercial heating sector will need to make significant changes. In this article we take a look at the geothermal heating market in Europe and how Pipelife Austria are at the forefront of this green energy movement.

Currently, heating buildings (hot water and heating systems) is responsible for 40% of the EU’s total energy consumption. This makes it one of the largest contributors to CO2 emissions in Europe.

While fitting existing buildings with double glazed windows, more efficient boilers and heating technologies is a positive step, municipalities, investors, and planners need to look towards greener methods of heat and energy sourcing, for example geothermal.

SOURCING GEOTHERMAL ENERGY

The biggest advantages geothermal energy has over other renewable sources is that it is always available and without fluctuations. Even though weather conditions vary significantly throughout the year and from one region to another, an average temperature of 8-10°C can be found at approximately 6 meters depth.  

The constant temperature is used to either heat or cool water that is fed through collector pipes. A heat pump then transforms the extracted energy into usable energy for heating or cooling and a low-temperature heating or cooling system, i.e., surface heating or low-temperature radiator heating. 

Basket or trench collector systems are ideal where there is limited space
Basket or trench collector systems are ideal where there is limited space
Open loops pump natural water from a well or body of water (lake, river) into a heat exchanger inside the heat pump and then return the water back to the water source.
Open loops pump natural water from a well or body of water (lake, river) into a heat exchanger inside the heat pump and then return the water back to the water source.

GEOTHERMAL ENERGY IN EUROPE

There is a huge potential in Europe for the direct use of geothermal energy, according to the European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC). With 2 million systems installed, ground source heat pumps are the most popular technology for geothermal energy use in the EU. Half of these are found in Sweden and Germany (0.6 and 0.4 million, respectively), with France, Norway, and Switzerland not too far behind.

However, in Central and Eastern Europe, the rate of growth for geothermal heating is surging, with the market increasing much more rapidly than in the rest of Europe.

PIONEERS IN GEOTHERMAL ENERGY SYSTEMS

In Austria, the first geothermal energy systems were installed as early as the 1970s and Pipelife has been a pioneer from the beginning, offering collectors and distributing pipes. Technologies, of course, improved over time and today there is a multitude of systems available, including vertical, horizontal, well and slab collector system suitable for almost any available space, condition, and project size. These systems not only apply to low-energy hydronic underfloor heating but also for wall and ceiling cooling. 

Thanks to the close cooperation with recognized heat pump system providers, Pipelife Austria has made sure to remain a leading supplier on the domestic market.  

“The demand for geothermal systems for single-family houses has been good and continuous over the years,” states Franz Grabner - General Manager of Pipelife Austria.

“Advances in heat pump technology have made large-scale projects more attractive,” he continues, „planners and investors are setting on renewable energy sources also for large-scale estates. This is a very positive trend, and we are glad to be able to help increase the share of green energy with our long-standing know-how and state-of-the-art solutions.”

Geothermal Piping
Shallow ground geothermal heating and cooling is now being used on larger projects around Europe

PIPELIFE AUSTRIA’S LARGEST HEATING AND COOLING PROJECT TO DATE

The latest project Pipelife Austria won is the largest heating and cooling project in the company’s history. Pipelife Austria was asked to plan, design, and deliver a geothermal system that covers no less than 890 kW heating load for the predefined standard outside temperature of -13.2°C for a sustainable and inclusive estate project. The estate is also cooled with the same system, this resulting in zero energy consumption.

“To optimally achieve the required capacity, we offered a mixed system involving a ground collector system, a well system, and an 8,800 m² concrete slab collector system”, explains Dietmar Kos, Sales Engineer at Pipelife Austria, “As usual, we will deliver the full set-up, meaning from planning through calculations, delivery, to support on-site, our clients know and appreciate us for providing complete solutions”. 

FUTURE ORIENTED LIVING COMFORT 

The estate consisting of over 300 apartments will not only provide eco-friendly, comfortable temperatures throughout all seasons, also the rest of the complex is based on future-oriented concepts. 54 of the apartments, for instance, are designed for “age-appropriate” living.

This goes beyond accessibility and comprises support packages for assisted accommodation for the elderly, easy changing of residences, but also possibilities to socialize and exchange with the youngest generations. Urban gardening, recreation rooms and playgrounds shall bring people together and a variety of apartment sizes and layouts will ensure a healthy social mix. 

Vidaus inžinerija vėsinimas
Geothermal heating systems can also be used for wall and ceiling cooling

THE FUTURE OF GEOTHERMAL HEATING

Geothermal energy clearly has a bright future and the integration of ground-source heat pumps could effectively contribute to slowing down the growth of energy consumption.

Such integration is one way of reaching sustainability goals, ensuring better energy consumption, and contributing to overall environmental protection efforts.

Learn more about our Geothermal collector systems, and other renewable energy solutions below.

 

References

› https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/10102/2020/EN/SWD-2020-953-F1-EN-MAIN-PART-4.PDF

› https://celsiuscity.eu/geothermal-solves-energy-dilemma/

› https://setis.ec.europa.eu/publications/setis-magazine/low-carbon-heating-cooling/geothermal-%E2%80%93-unlimited-heating-and-cooling

› https://www.tradelineinc.com/reports/2017-5/using-geothermal-exchange-systems-achieve-zero-net-energy-cold-climates#:~:text=Geothermal%20heating%20and%20cooling%20exchange,and%20greatly%20improve%20HVAC%20efficiency.

› https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0960148118314228

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