NGWA Supports Geothermal Heat Pump Technology Bill

Bill would establish research and development program under Energy Department

The National Ground Water Assn. (NGWA) announced it support for a bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester that, among other things, would establish a geothermal heat pump (GHP) technology research and development program.

Senate Bill 1142 seeks to amend the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. It is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which held a hearing on the bill July 12.

GHP systems provide heating and cooling by exchanging heat to and from the ground or surface water.

“We applaud your efforts and those of Sens. Murkowski and Reid to ensure the United States maintains a leadership position in geothermal heat pump technology,” said NGWA Executive Director Kevin B. McCray, CAE. “Thanks for recognizing that geothermal heat pump technology is smart, a great value and outstanding stewardship of our natural resources.”

The bill would direct the U.S. secretary of energy to establish a program of research, development, demonstration and commercial application for GHP technology. The program would award project grants to state and local governments, higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations, utilities and for-profit companies, including manufacturers.

“This farsighted bill’s focus on enhancing research, development, demonstration and commercial application of geothermal heat pumps while maintaining environmental protections will help address the nation’s energy needs in a sustainable manner,” McCray said.

More specifically, the bill seeks to advance GHP technology in areas including:

• Heat pumps;
• Heat transfer fluids;
• Thermal grouts;
• Drilling methods;
• Geothermal ground loop installation;
• GHP system design; and
• Large-scale applications (districts, neighborhoods, communities, large commercial or public buildings, and industrial and manufacturing facilities).

The bill would authorize appropriations for fiscal years 2012 through 2016 and require the energy secretary to solicit grant applications 180 days after enactment. It also would establish a loan program to support exploratory deep drilling for geothermal energy emanating from the Earth’s core.

National Ground Water Assn.

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