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IKEA Geothermal System Could be Model for Others

September 2, 2010

NREL has teamed up with IKEA, the Swedish home furnishings retailer, to showcase and study the advantages of a geothermal heating and cooling system. The system, comprised of 130 holes dug 500 feet deep where the temperature remains about 55° year-round, will use less energy and money when it comes to keeping a new IKEA store at a comfortable temperature.

With a combination of deep holes and a maze of hoses below the store's parking garage, the system will run liquid in a loop down to the Earth's 55° temperature and bring it back up to help keep things cool in the summer and warm in the winter. When warm surface air is passed over the cool pipes, the air will get cooler. When the air is cooler than the liquid, it is warmed as it passes over the pipes.

Once the geothermal system is in place, NREL researchers will collect actual-performance data to help IKEA make decisions about any necessary adjustments. Specifically, NREL will monitor the energy use of the heat pumps, the temperature in and out of the heat pumps, and the flow. The temperature, in terms of climate control, will also be examined.

"By collecting actual live data on the performance of systems, we have better insight on what needs to be improved," said Erin Anderson, a senior geothermal analyst at NREL. "We'll be able to say with confidence, 'if you do it this way, it will work this well.'"

The IKEA/NREL project could be the benchmark for a credible standard for geothermal installation in large-scale retail stores nationwide. Additionally, NREL's data base will be open to researchers around the world to use for their models.

To learn more about the system and NREL's involvement, see the NREL feature story.