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Why Isn’t Geothermal Power on the Grid?

Cold water pumped downGeothermal power is one of those concepts that sounds just perfect in theory. So why aren’t more people using it? It’s clean, sustainable and provides a cheap source of renewal energy.

One paper studies the potential of Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) in North Carolina, and gives us a pretty good assessment, in a nutshell, of the technology, its successes and failures natonwide.

One impediment to more GSHP installations, says this report, is the expiration of certain tax credits. In a survey, 93% of consumers who have geothermal systems said state tax incentives were somewhat or very important in their decision to go geo.

In addition, the report identified the entrenched electric utilities as another possible stumbling block to GSHP growth. As we noted in a previous post, electric companies have a vast investment in the grid and it’s not in their best interest to encourage mavericks who don’t need their poles and wires and meters.

There is other encouraging news from around the nation, however. Some builders are installing geothermal coils for an entire development. When a homeowner buys a house, he already has the expensive part of the system in place. The rest is just low energy bills, for life (50 years life expectancy on the parts). These housing developments, some constructed by a company called Enertech (Enertech Global LLC), are in Ames, Iowa, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., and in the Grand Cayman Islands. So it’s not just California that’s green (in more ways than one these days).

Another company, Climate Master Inc., is building all-geothermal homes in Maryland, Ohio, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Washington, and Nebraska. See the story, here: http://www.achrnews.com/articles/130187-its-a-beautiful-day-for-geothermal-neighborhoods-and-communities.

Geothermal energy, #10And the utilities may be coming around. At last report, some utility companies had decided that partnering with sustainable energy providers might be smarter than playing dead elephant in the road. (Is there such a game?)

But it has taken a good kick from the legislature or the governor to get the elephant moving. While it’s generally conceded that electric utilities would benefit greatly from investing in geothermal, it is difficult— everyone concedes this— to get management to see beyond the quarterly reports that affect their stock price (and bonuses, and public relations, and short-term outlook).

But maybe, just maybe, those developers who are going ahead with putting their subdivisions off-grid might have a bunny in their hats. Certainly we the people should be cheering them on, encouraging our elected officials to subsidize our withdrawal from the fossil-fuel addiction.

OK. Enough scrambled metaphors. Go geo! And if you’re serious already about a heat pump, check out our database of popular models: http://www.acdoctor.com/Heat-Pumps-p-1-c-63.html (Go geo.)

 

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