As we continue our trek towards cost-effective net-zero facilities, our industry is beginning to embrace the concept of shifting from “real-time” HVAC energy plants such as boilers and chillers to systems that capture, store, and distribute thermal energy. The accelerated growth of geothermal heat pump market share is evidence of this trend. Research1 indicates that in the United States, the geothermal heat pump market has seen an 18% compound annual growth rate and is anticipated to reach 21.7% compound annual growth between 2011 and 2017. In other markets, such as Sweden, the penetration of geothermal heat pump systems in new construction has reached 75%.
Geothermal heat pump systems generally fall into two categories: central systems, using fewer but larger heat pumps typically making hot and chilled water to feed to conventional air handlers, and decentralized systems, which use smaller unitary heat pumps.