The role of ground source heat pumps in reducing carbon emissions

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As consumers, we tend to look to products and services that deliver sustainability as well as
efficiency, especially since we’re much wiser to the effects that our actions have on the
As things stand, energy supplies account for 21% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced in
the UK, second only to transport (24%). In order to meet a 2050 net-zero target, the automotive
industry is working hard to increase the number of electric cars that are available.
The way things are going, it could be energy suppliers who are responsible for producing the highest
levels of GHG emissions. Whether or not this will turn out to be the case, the fact remains that the
energy industry needs to get its house in order-it’s the producers of ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) that are leading the charge.
The science of gas source heat pump sustainability
GSHPs offer a greener, more efficient alternative to conventional heating systems. They do so via a
heat pump which is connected to a series of pipes located underground: in horizontal trenches (1.5
to 2 metres deep) or vertical boreholes (sitting at a depth of up to 200 metres).
Heat found naturally in the ground is transferred through ground-collecting pipes to the heat pump
via a liquid comprising water and a gas-based refrigerant. A compressor located within the heat
pump increases the temperature of the resultant fluid which passes through to radiators and hot-
water cylinders.
Vital to the effectiveness of a GSHP is its coefficient of performance (COP), which will vary depending
on the level of competence possessed by the installer. When fitted by an expert, a GSHP can
produce four units of heat (sometimes more) for every unit of electrical energy required to
transform natural ground-based temperatures. This means that a COP of 400% is perfectly
achievable. At the very least, a correctly installed GSHP should yield a minimum 300% COP figure.
Traditional electric heating systems offer – at best – a 100% COP figure, which means that on
average, a GSHP requires 75% less electricity to heat the home. This can equate to a cost savings,
and since fossil fuels are required to generate electricity, it also translates to a substantial reduction
in carbon emissions.
It’s also worth noting that GSHPs produce no carbon emissions locally – or none at all if a renewable
electricity source is used.
Is a ground source heat pump right for me?
This will depend on the type of home you own and its location. In the majority of cases, GSHPs are
an elegant solution. However, properties without land big enough for the laying of trenches (or the
drilling of boreholes) may not be best suited to the installation of a GSHP.
Learn more
If you have any questions regarding the installation of a ground source heat pump at your property,
we’re here to answer them – and offer you were not technically impartial as we are an installer but
happy to offer any necessary advice. Solaris Energy is affiliated to and accredited by the
Microgeneration Certificate Scheme (MCS), a nationally recognised quality assurance programme
which is supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.