Clean, Renewable Heating and Cooling: No Money Down! GeoTPA: Geothermal Heat Pumps For No Money Down
Geothermal is one of the cooler clean energy solutions that nobody's talking about. It's a proven, relatively simple technology that is absolutely ready for prime time. Basically, a few feet underground, the temperature always stays the same, and that stable temperature can be harnessed to cool buildings in summer and help warm them in winter. The Department of Energy explains a little better:
The geothermal heat pump system moves heat from the ground, which has a fairly consistent temperature year-round, to a building (or from a building to the ground) through a series of flexible pipe "loops" containing water. In the winter, heat from the relatively warmer ground goes through the heat exchanger into the building. In the summer, hot air from the building is pulled through the heat exchanger into the relatively cooler ground. Heat pump systems are so efficient that they have proven that they can lower energy bills by up to 70% over traditional types of heating systems.
Their Geothermal 101 video gets into even more depth.
Like so many distributed, clean energy solutions—rooftop solar, weatherization, microhydro, residential wind—the biggest obstacle is often upfront costs. Some solar providers have started offering power purchasing agreements (PPAs) to ease the barriers of entry too putting solar panels on a residential roof. Basically, the consumer doesn't pay any upfront costs, but just agree to buy the power provided by the rooftop arrays. These PPAs have become wildly popular in the solar realm, and a New Hampshire company has debuted the concept for geothermal heat pumps.
LVestus Energy is offering the novel new GeoTPA (a "thermal purchasing agrement"), which:
provides ground source heat exchange loop fields, at ZERO CAPITAL EXPENSE, to building owners, municipalities, corporations, universities, schools, hospitals, medical facilities, state and federal buildings, military facilities, among others, and contracts to provide the energy from the field on a long term fixed price per BTU basis.
This GeoTPA is not actually targeted towards home owners, but rather larger building owners and institutions. LVestus is only installing the deep-plunging geothermal units (seen on the left), which are more effective and powerful, but also a lot more expensive to construct. They won't be dabbling in the more residentially-friendly horizontal troughs.
Building operators basically pay for how much heating and cooling their system provides at a fixed cost based on today's dollar. That's a huge advantage, and really smart economics for any business. LVestus claims that the savings are immediate. Here's a chart of the estimated costs for a typical 200,000 square foot commercial building:
Seems like a one of those win-win no brainers for a company that wants to lock in some reasonable rates for all their heating and cooling energy needs, and who wants to avoid the volatility of the fossil fuel energy markets. I look forward to seeing what company or institution jumps on this first. UNH, we're looking at you!
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