An Eye-Opening Study Backed by the Department of Energy

Research initiatives continue to confirm the undeniable benefits of investing in geothermal heat pump (GHP) systems. A recent study, conducted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), assessed the technical, economic, and market potential of GHP systems in residential and commercial HVAC applications. This 2019 ORNL analysis is a supporting study to a larger DOE initiative called GeoVision – a detailed research effort focused on exploring the vast, untapped potential of geothermal energy in the United States. While GHPs have already proven capable of largely reducing energy use and associated carbon emissions, the adoption rate of these technologies is still surprisingly low. GeoVision and ORNL set out to determine what harnessing the full potential of U.S. geothermal resources would present. What did the results of the report reveal? Geothermal energy offers an overwhelming abundance of economic and environmental opportunities for the U.S.

Enormous Opportunity for Energy Savings and Carbon Emissions Reduction

The results of the ORNL study were extremely promising, highlighting unrealized opportunities in many areas, including: energy savings, carbon emissions reduction, and market advancement.
The assessment, which compared GHP systems with conventional HVAC systems on a variety of factors, reported that retrofitting all existing HVAC systems with GHPs could save:

  • 5.7 quads of primary energy annually (a 46% reduction in national primary energy consumption for space heating and space cooling)
  • 356.3 million tons of CO2 emissions annually
  • $49.8 billion annually

In addition, GeoVision determined that the residential market potential for GHP technologies is equivalent to supplying heating and cooling systems to 28 million US households, which:

  • Is 14 times greater than existing installed GHP capacity
  • Represents 23% of total residential heating and cooling market share by 2050
  • Creates and/or maintains millions of jobs

Geothermal Heat Pumps: The Undeniable Right Choice for Heating and Cooling

Geothermal energy is safe, comfortable, and renewable. Many previous studies have portrayed the capability of GHPs to save energy and reduce harmful emissions. The DOE’s GeoVision and ORNL’s supporting analysis not only confirm this capability, but clearly illustrate the positive impact that geothermal energy could have on the US.

On a smaller scale, GHPs continue to save energy and money for the home and business owners that invest in them. These localized benefits, combined with big-picture economic and environmental potential, make GHPs the undeniable right choice for space heating and cooling. With so much research supporting both the small and large scale advantages of geothermal heat pump systems – how can you say no to Geo?? It’s time to realize the massive benefits that this reliable and renewable energy offers to our families, our country, our world.
John (Jack) P. DiEnna Jr is the Executive Director of the Geothermal National & International Initiative, and can be reached at

ORNL Analysis:

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