Throughout the project’s interactions with local public stakeholders, two recurring themes have emerged:

  • There is the need to support local authorities in regulating efficiently, and in monitoring properly and in planning smartly the development of shallow geothermal systems in cities and communities.
  • There is also a general lack of knowledge about where to find for more information about shallow geothermal energy: technical data, regulations, etc. The need to have one stop-shop approach has been identified.

Local information hubs or helpdesks are understood to be the most effective in addressing these needs. In order to facilitate their development, the ReGeoCities project has developed an online pan-European helpdesk which will act as a springboard for local authorities to create their own. It provides a guiding structure and initial information which the relevant authorities can build on according to local demand and requirements.

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A collection of documents for helpdesks covering the integration of shallow geothermal systems in cities.

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Database Handbook Integration in Buildings Integration in Cities

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What are geothermal heat pumps?

Geothermal heat pumps (also called Ground Source Heat Pumps, GSHP) are an established technology for space heating and cooling and sanitary hot water that makes use of shallow geothermal energy, meaning the heat stored beneath the earth’s surface.

Ground source heat pump systems have three main components:

  • the building side;
  • the ground side;
  • the heat pumps itself.

There are two main types of system for heating and domestic hot water:

  • Open-loop systems, where the main heat carrier, ground water, flows freely in the underground and is directly used through ground water wells.
  • Closed-loop systems, which use several types of heat exchangers placed in the underground. There are several types of closed loops systems.

The low temperature in the ground can also be changed artificially by storage of heat or cold, creating geothermal energy storage: these systems are known as UTES, Underground Thermal Energy Storage systems. There are two types of UTES:

  • Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES)
  • Borehole Thermal Energy Storage (BTES)

The highest storage temperature achieved in geothermal energy systems is about 90°C, the lowest ca. 5°C.

What are the benefits of geothermal heat pumps?

Geothermal heat pumps are ...

... Renewable
Using the clean, inexhaustible and local heat from the earth, shallow geothermal systems can supply heating and cooling 24 hours a day without producing emissions.
... Efficient
Geothermal heat pumps are one of the few heating technologies in the highest category of the new EU labelling system (A+++). The huge reduction in energy consumption leads to financial savings.
... Competitive
Despite its higher upfront cost, geothermal heat pumps guarantee a quick return on investment. Case studies demonstrate that a gas boiler becomes more expensive than the geothermal heat pump after less than 3 years of operation: this indicates that savings of a geothermal system can quickly compensate the costs of installation.
... Reliable
The heat pumps used in shallow geothermal systems have the lowest number of failures per installed unit compared to similar technologies, making systems easy and simple to maintain.
... Versatile
The end uses of shallow geothermal systems are varied: they can provide space heating and cooling, hot water, and energy storage. They can also be installed in buildings of various sizes and uses.


What can shallow geothermal do for you and your community?

Shallow geothermal energy is a local, renewable, efficient and versatile source which can provide buildings and industry with clean and competitive heating and cooling.

Available across Europe, shallow geothermal energy systems use the heat from the top layers of the earth (up to 400m) to supply heating, cooling and hot water to homes and businesses. More than 1 million ground source heat pumps are installed in the EU, with average energy savings of as much as 50% in winter and 40% in summer. For cooling, savings of up to 90% are possible.

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