Skip navigation to main content.
NREL - National Renewable Energy Laboratory
About NRELEnergy AnalysisScience and TechnologyTechnology TransferTechnology DeploymentEnergy Systems Integration

Assess the Local Industry and Resource Potential for Geothermal Heating and Cooling

The first step to create effective policy for geothermal heating and cooling technologies is to assess the local industry and your area's resource potential. As you assess your area, consider the historical interest in the local geothermal industry, evaluate current geothermal resource potential, and identify possible stakeholders you can contact for more information. This will provide you with insights into the scale of the geothermal opportunity in your area, and allow you to design policy that is realistic and feasible.

Increased Development Step 5 Implement Policies Step 4 Consider Policy Options Step 3 Evaluate Current Policy Step 2 Identify Challenges to Local Development Step 1 Assess the Local Industry and Resource Potential

Review Historical Activity of Local Industry

Conducting informal surveys or interviews with local heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers and contractors and geothermal trade organizations can help you better understand local barriers and past technology-related activity. Recent or existing installations in your region are a sign of resource potential.

See a map of direct-use geothermal facilities from NREL's Open Energy Info Web site. The Geo-Heat Center also offers maps and other information on the locations of direct-use geothermal resources and facilities.

Evaluate Deployment Potential

As you evaluate the potential of geothermal heating and cooling technologies in your area, take a close look at recent or existing installations in your region. If there is a substantial amount, there may be significant deployment potential. However, deployment potential can be heavily impacted by system costs and other regional requirements; make sure to take these into account as you evaluate.

System costs for ground source heat pumps (GSHP) are dramatically affected by the local geologic and soil conditions, which can impact the cost of the required underground or underwater loop system. Evaluate the range of expected costs for drilling or excavating the underground loop system within specific areas of your state or community to assess the economic viability of GSHP.

Direct-use geothermal applications require a local geothermal reservoir. To head off any additional barriers, conduct an in-depth, comprehensive assessment of local direct-use resource potential to identify specific viable sites, reduce development risk, and inform the local population about opportunities for geothermal direct-use applications.

Identify Stakeholders

By identifying possible stakeholders you'll find information on existing or potential workforce personnel, equipment vendors, regulatory players, and potential champions or opponents of geothermal development in your area. To identify stakeholders, contact state and federal environmental agencies, your state energy office, or university experts. The Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium (Geo Exchange) offers a directory of contractors, manufacturers, drilling contractors, and other stakeholders as well as presentations and a list of upcoming events you can use to find stakeholders in your area. You can also search the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association's business directory for accredited GSHP installers, designers, and more.

Next, identify the challenges your area faces to geothermal heating and cooling technology development.