What is GeoEnergy?
Manitoba has become a major leader in earth energy systems also known as geothermal or ground source heat pumps. We are an activity hub for North American geothermal installations. These systems provide the lowest cost heating and cooling in the world. Instead of burning fossil fuels or powering an electric element, a pump moves heat into or out of the ground. The only ongoing cost is electricity to run the pump and circulate the hot or cool air. By installing a geothermal system, average homes could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by five tonnes each year.
Manitoba now has between 25% and 30% of all geothermal system installations in the country and 56% of Canada’s geothermal installers are trained in Manitoba. Manitoba Hydro’s Earth Power Loan Program has helped make this renewable energy technology more accessible to Manitoba homeowners, with installations tripling in the past four years and predicted to double again in the next two years.
We will build on this by: merging Winnipeg’s need for new housing lot development within city boundaries with the development of geothermal power. For example, by the fall of 2006, Waverley West in Winnipeg’s southwest quadrant will begin development and its houses will benefit from the availability of built-in geothermal systems. These systems eliminate natural gas bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and foster a growing industry in our province.
How does a geothermal system work?
The temperature of the ground is fairly constant below the frost line. The ground is warmer in the middle of winter and cooler in the middle of summer than the outside air.
A single efficient system can be used for both heating and cooling, eliminating the need for separate furnace and air-conditioning systems. It can also heat water at no additional cost.
An earth energy system uses a series of buried pipes to transfer the heat from the ground into a building during winter, converting it into warm air and distributing it through ducts.
In summer, the system is reversed to transfer heat out of the building, where it uses the cooler ground as a heat sink.
The system can be configured as either a closed or open loop, and the loop itself can be either horizontal or vertical. Closed-loop systems circulate a fluid mixture within the buried pipes, while open-loop systems circulate well or surface water.
Ground-source heat pumps do not create heat through combustion; they simply move solar heat that is stored in soil or water from one place to another.
Benefits to the Residential Sector
Residential heating and cooling needs in Manitoba are mainly met by either natural gas or electricity.
Geothermal heat pumps are one of the most environmentally beneficial heating systems available. These systems offer homeowners the opportunity to significantly reduce their heating costs.
Manitoba Hydro has lunched a Geothermal Heat Pump Program to make this renewable energy technology more accessible to Manitoba homeowners.
Benefits to the Commercial & Institutional Sector
The energy used by the commercial sector accounts for about 13% of total energy demand in Canada, and about the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions from secondary energy use.
In commercial buildings, more than half the energy used is for space heating. The high demand for space conditioning means that commercial/institutional facilities could significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by using renewable energy sources instead of the carbon-intensive fuels required by conventional systems, and by improving energy efficiency to reduce their overall energy use.
Information and statistics excerpted from:
Earth Energy, Ground-Source/Geothermal Heat Pumps, GeoExchange.
Published by Natural Resources Canada