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Re: E-M:/ info on Geothermal systems

Enviro-Mich message from "Maggie Fields" <FIELDSM@michigan.gov>

Some links to more info are below.  These systems are generally accepted as saving huge dollars on heating and cooling costs and are promoted by many.  They sound like the answer to all our energy problems.  However, there are environmental issues to be concerned about that are rarely discussed.   This is unscientific - I have not done recent research on this but a few years ago, these issues remained unresolved.

Closed looped systems generally use a refrigerant.  What will happen if in 5-10-15-20, whenever, the system leaks the refrigerant into the surrounding groundwater after a good frost heave or age?  How can you determine if a leak occurs except by lower fluids.  Then can the system be dug up and the location found and repaired?  Some systems are placed in ponds - how can you ensure a leak won't kill off the pond?  What if the line is damaged by work in the pond to control weeds?  'Biodegradeable' refrigerants will not protect either aquifer.  Will the owner be prepared or able to clean up the contaminated area?  Is it feasible to operate a system without a refrigerant?

Open looped systems pump groundwater out to surface water 1.5 gallons per minute per ton of heat pump capacity  - is this a good use of drinking water - once through - what would be the impact if every home in the area did the same 24/7?  Are there flooding or high surface water issues already?


Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium
Descriptions of different systems

How to*

Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

>>> "Monica Evans" <imagine@betsievalley.net> 8/2/2005 1:00:11 PM >>>

We need to replace our current furnace system by winter and are looking into the possibility of a Geothermal system. 
I am wondering if anyone has one, and if they are as great as they sound.  Any environmental impacts?
How about energy conservation?  Also, I wonder about the amount of water they use and if they create an impact of aquifer levels, et.
Any info or opinions would be greatly appreciated.

~Monica Evans
   Traverse Group of the Sierra Club


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