The Benefits Of Geothermal Drilling & Ground Heat Pumps

by | May 8, 2020

Renewable energies have taken centre-stage in recent times. Taking proactive environmental steps has become even more important since Greta Thunberg and her cohort of supporters, including none other than David Attenborough himself, took centre stage over a year ago now. Every industry has been attempting to implement more sustainable practices where possible, and the geotechnical sector is no exception to this.

One of the leading geotechnical methodologies to emerge from this change in climate, no pun intended, is geothermal drilling. This has come both in the form of large-scale (huge geothermal plants) and the more small-scale, eg. implantation of ground source heat pumps, which is the kind of work that Borehole Solutions offers. Regardless of the scale, the benefits of geothermal well drilling are manifold and varied.

The team here at Borehole Solutions, one of the UK’s leading geotechnical site investigation contractors, wants to go into some further detail about the practice of geothermal drilling.


Why Geothermal Energy?

Geothermal energy is a much bigger deal, now, than it ever has been before. In Iceland, for example, 90% of their heating demand is supplied from geothermal energy sources. Unlike most other renewable energies, geothermal energy has the capability to provide clean energy every second, of every day, of every year. This is in stark contrast to the alternatives, like solar power, which hinges on a continuous supply of light; and wind power, which depends on regular gusts. Geothermal exploitation, at its grandest scale, can plough on regardless of the conditions.

There are various ways in which geothermal energy can be harnessed, and an even greater number of applications once it has been so. Geothermal energy can be used in heat production; this is done using direct heat exchange technology or heating pumps. It can also be utilised in power production; this is done in the form of steam turbines. In terms of practical applications, this means that geothermal energy can be used for urban and domestic heating – the heating of homes, car parks and greenhouses, for example. It means it can also be used to generate electricity for both personal and national purposes. The prevalence of geothermal reservoirs the world over, is part of what makes geothermal energy such an enticing prospect.


What Form Of Geothermal Drilling Service Does Borehole Solutions Offer?

As we’ve just established, there are a wide range of applications for geothermal drilling. Now, this is important: there’s a big difference between large-scale and small-scale geothermal services. Borehole Solutions focuses specifically on the more domestic-leaning side of things; the geothermal borehole arrays drilled by Borehole tend to have a maximum depth of 250m. Borehole’s geothermal drilling is used to implement heat pumps in various settings using a borehole system – these include developments, private homes and social housing. It’s important to note that they don’t operate on those larger-scale corporate projects, the kind offering electricity grid power provision, for example. This distinction is important to clarify, as many people get confused between geothermal drilling and the many services which that particular term encompasses.


Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHPs)

Whilst the installation of Ground Source Heat Pumps is indeed a form of geothermal drilling, it differs from the more commonly held perception of what geothermal drilling is, by dint of its scale. Geothermal reservoirs provide huge untapped potential and a continuous supply of energy, and these reservoirs are the sort that provide for corporate and national applications. These plants rely solely on the heat stemming from the earth’s formations at depths far exceeding 250m.

Geothermal Heat Pumps, on the other hand, are designed to harness the underlying ground’s geothermal potential at shallower depths (up to 250m) and for more domestic purposes. They’re used to harness only the power needed for that particular home, let’s say. Also, another key difference is that much of the heating energy harnessed by these pumps is accrued by both geothermal means and solar gain, with the ground being heated by both the rock itself and by energy stored from the sun. This means that the installation of Geothermal Heat Pumps isn’t solely a geothermal process. Heat pumps are installed via either ground arrays, or borehole systems, dependent on the space available at a property or development.


One of our rigs being used for geothermal applications.


What’s So Good?

So, we’ve established two major things so far; firstly, that geothermal energy an increasingly attractive energy source. Secondly, the difference between corporate/national geothermal drilling and more domestic Geothermal Heat Pump applications. Where does that leave us? Well, what are the benefits of having a Geothermal Heat Pump installed? That seems a logical next question to ask! Heat Pumps are fantastic pieces of technology for so many reasons, and we’ve listed just some of them below:


The Benefits

  • They use renewable energy! It seems an obvious one, but it’s worth stating again. By using a renewable energy source, you’re helping the sustainability of the planet’s future.
  • There’s minimal maintenance required once a Geothermal Heat Pump has been installed.
  • The fact that you’re using a renewable energy source also means you could benefit from Government incentives and payment schemes. The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is just one such scheme. So, there’s a potential financial gain to be had.
  • You won’t notice they’re there – Geothermal Heat Pumps are run remarkably quietly.
  • Heat Pumps provide a plentiful supply of hot water for your home, as well as covering your home’s heating needs.
  • It will save you on energy costs; using geothermal energy for your heating rather than oil, gas or electricity can help mitigate some of the largest financial drains facing your home.

Renewable energy sources are only going to increase in popularity the more time passes. Geothermal drilling will no doubt be part of that surging tide. Gone are the days where renewable energy sources were only available on a huge, national or corporate scale. You can do your bit from home now, as well. The benefits of going with a trusted supplier of geothermal services seriously outweigh the risks of cutting corners. A company such as Borehole Solutions will maintain the utmost compliance with industry standards and regulations. So, if you’d like to find out any more about Borehole Solutions’ geothermal drilling services, then get in touch! Contact us today on 01733 200501.