Geothermal heating and fuel price risk

2011-02-14

in Economics, Geek stuff, Ottawa, The environment

The building I recently moved into is distinguished by the technology which it uses for heating and cooling. Rather than use electricity or fossil fuels to generate heat directly, it takes advantage of the way in which the ground maintains a fairly constant temperature all year round, if you dig down deep enough.

One big advantage of this approach – when it comes to the residents of the building – is that it takes away the risk associated with volatile fossil fuel prices, and reduces the amount of electricity required. People living in such a building have a better guarantee that they will be able to heat their homes than people living in conventional structures will. This could be especially important if fossil fuel prices spike in the future, or even if they just progress relentlessly upward.

It can be challenging to identify situations in which the economic self-interest of individuals aligns closely with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas pollution. Geothermal heating and cooling seems to be one of the places where those interests align.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Tristan February 14, 2011 at 8:50 am

I agree – but wouldn’t it be even more advantageous for such projects to occur at the local or community level? The problem with economic self interest and price-protection, is that if the prices spike and the social fabric breaks down, all of a sudden you live in a much more dangerous world. Being on the higher side of a steep dominance curve isn’t that great if it means your position is precarious, threatened by those without money, heating, or food.

oleh February 14, 2011 at 10:12 am

The use of geothermal heating in your residence seems so hot and cool , which is what it is meant to do. For your four story building , do you know how deep they had to go?

Milan February 15, 2011 at 6:14 pm

It was either 137 0r 147 metres.

I am waiting to get some technical details back from the company that built the system.

Milan February 15, 2011 at 6:15 pm

I agree – but wouldn’t it be even more advantageous for such projects to occur at the local or community level?

The CCOC people did approach the two biggest neighbouring buildings (the YMCA and the Museum of Nature) to discuss the possibility of heating all the buildings geothermally, but neither of the other organizations was at the right stage to make such an investment.

Apparently, it wouldn’t have been that much more expensive to build a system that could also heat and cool additional nearby buildings.

. March 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm

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