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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Application analysis of ground source heat pumps in building space conditioning


The adoption of geothermal energy in space conditioning of buildings through utilizing ground source heat pump (GSHP, also known as geothermal heat pump) has increased rapidly during the past several decades. However, the impacts of the GSHP utilization on the efficiency of heat pumps and soil temperature distribution remained unclear and needs further investigation. This paper presents a novel model to calculate the soil temperature distribution and the coefficient of performance (COP) of GSHP. Different scenarios were simulated to quantify the impact of different factors on the GSHP performance, including heat balance, daily running mode, and spacing between boreholes. Our results show that GSHP is suitable for buildings with balanced cooling and heating loads. It can keep soil temperature at a relatively constant level for more than 10 years. Long boreholes, additional space between boreholes, intermittent running mode will improve the performance of GSHP, but large initial investment is required. The improper design will make the COP of GSHP even lower than traditional heat pumps. Professional design and maintenance technologies are greatly needed in order to promote this promising technology in the developing world.

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