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How a Geothermal Plant Works - 4:45

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About Earth Energy
Earth energy, also called geothermal, geoexchange or ground source heat pumps, is a resource-efficient, environmentally friendly heating, cooling and hot water technology. While heating and cooling from the earth may sound unconventional, the science and technology is proven. More than 30,000 geothermal systems are operating in Canada right now.

Geothermal systems use the earth's thermal energy to provide heating in winter and cooling in summer. A few meters below ground, the earth's temperature remains constant. By capitalizing on this phenomenon, geothermal can provide a steady source of heating and cooling, reducing energy consumption by 35% to 70% compared to traditional oil, natural gas, or electric systems. And since geothermal systems do not burn fossil fuels to create heat, they reduce greenhouse gas emissions substantially, improving indoor air quality by eliminating a potential source of carbon monoxide.

How Does Geothermal Work?

A few feet beneath the surface, the earth's temperature remains fairly constant year round, ranging from approximately 45 degrees Fahrenheit in northern latitudes to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the Deep South. A geothermal system takes advantage of this constant temperature to pump heat either into or out of the ground.

The technology used to operate geothermal systems is already operating in your homes right now, but in a different form. Geothermal units use the same technology as household refrigerators.
As a refrigerator runs, it pumps heat out of the fridge in order to cool your food. Have you ever noticed the hot air that flows from the back of your refrigerator? This is the appliance pumping heat out of the fridge.

Geothermal units use the same principle to heat and cool your homes. In cold weather, warmth is drawn from the earth through a series of pipes, called a loop, which is installed beneath the ground. A water solution circulating through this piping loop carries the earth's natural warmth to a heat pump inside homes and buildings. The heat pump concentrates the earth's thermal energy and transfers it to air circulated through interior ductwork in the building, just like heat is concentrated and vented out the back of your refrigerator.

In warm weather, the process is reversed. Instead of pumping heat out of the ground and into the building, heat is pumped out of the house and into the ground.

Geothermal systems can also supply a building's hot water. The operation of the heat pump, regardless of whether it is heating or cooling the building, produces excess heat. An option called a 'desuperheater' is added to the appliance, which uses this excess heat to heat the building's water supply.

Is Geothermal Dependable?

Yes. The technology used to run geothermal units is not new - the compression cycle has been used in refrigerators worldwide for over 100 years.

If everybody used geothermal, how much would the environment benefit?

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently stated that geothermal is the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective space conditioning system available on the market today. It produces up to 80% fewer emissions than conventional heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and can be entirely emission free when partnered with renewable electricity generation, such as solar or wind energy.

Can Zerofootprint combine geothermal with solar or wind powered systems?


Geothermal technology requires electricity to run and this electricity can be obtained through a number of renewable sources, such as solar or wind power. Using renewable resources to generate the needed electricity allows us to become less dependent on the electrical grid for heating and cooling buildings. Combining photovoltaic panels and wind power with a back-up system is not only a more sustainable alternative, but helps ensure that heating and cooling services can operate independent of power failures.

Zerofootprint Energy can help implement:

· Geothermal as a stand-alone solution, drawing power from the electricity grid.

· Geothermal combined with either solar photovoltaic or wind technology in a 'net-metering' grid connection. Under this configuration, the house remains connected to the grid, but it supplies as much to the grid as it removes on an annual basis.

· Geothermal combined with either solar or wind energy, as well as a backup system. In cases where a backup system is present, buildings and homes are less likely to be impacted by power failures.

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