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Groundsource heat pump

Water is pumped up to 5km underground where hotter rock temperatures heat the water before it is pumped back up to the surface to be converted into energy

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UK's first geothermal shopping centre opens in London

Ecologist

21st January, 2011

A shopping centre in the heart of London’s City is setting the eco-standard for property developers with a geothermal heating and cooling system

Europe's largest ground source heat pump is up and running at the One New Change Shopping Centre, near St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The centre’s heating and cooling system is situated in the basement, where a 60 km pipe network converts thermal heat from deep underground into a fluid medium such as air or a liquid, using a heat pump.

Although carbon emissions will be cut by an estimated 10 per cent, critics are concerned the technology is too costly to implement on a wide scale and fear it won’t last long (the estimated life expectancy of the heat pump is up to 50 years).

Land Securities PLC, who built the centre, said the total development cost of £540m was justified because geothermal investment will save up to £300,000 a year in energy bills.

‘The renewable energy system will deliver carbon reductions, cost savings and a comfortable work environment, making it a truly sustainable building for the future,' said Patrick Sheriff from Geothermal International, who designed the system.

Interest in geothermal applications more widely is still low in the UK although a first commercial power plant could be up and running by 2013. Engineers are drilling a 4.5km deep borehole this year at a site near Redruth in Cornwall where there is known to be huge potential for generating heat. A further site at the Eden Project is also being investigated.

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