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Media opportunity: New research by Dalhousie University suggests green alternative to conventional space heating methods could lay right beneath your feet

Posted by Communications and Marketing on July 11, 2022 in News

More than 60 per cent of the residential energy consumption in Canada is used for space heating. In Atlantic Canada, that number is closer to 70 per cent and most of that energy is generated by burning fossil fuels, an expensive resource that is also a significant contributor to climate change.

In the search for low-carbon alternatives, little attention has been given to the viability of recycling the heat accumulated in the shallow underground due to urbanization, industrialization and climate change. We can extract this resource using very shallow geothermal systems.

In a new paper, researchers from Dalhousie University, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Germany analyze the feasibility of large-scale subsurface geothermal heat recycling. They found that heat has already accumulated in about 50 per cent of all studied sites across multiple continents.

Led by Susanne Benz, a Banting postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Water Resources Studies at Dalhousie, the researchers suggest that extracting this heat from the underground would not just reduce underground temperatures, but could also easily supply annual heating demands for one year or more.

The volume of heat absorbed in the ground each year is expected to rise significantly as temperatures continue to go up, with estimates projecting that by 2099 between 73 to 97 per cent of regions in North America, Europe and Australia could consistently satisfy annual heating demands though shallow geothermal heat recycling.

The authors say that should policymakers and stakeholders decide against this low-carbon heating method, heat will continue to accumulate in the ground and adversely affect water quality and ecosystems.

Dr. Benz is available to discuss these important findings and how shallow subsurface heat recycling could be a green alternative to conventional space heating methods.


Media contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Communications, Marketing & Creative Services
Cell: 902-220-0491


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