SaFEGround - Sustainable, Flexible and Efficient Ground-source heating and cooling systems

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Civil & Environmental Engineering


Through the 2008 Climate Change act, the UK committed to reduce by 80% its carbon emissions. While great progress has been made so far, data suggests that reductions in emissions have been achieved through switching electricity production to greener, more environmentally friendly sources, such as offshore wind. Clearly, it is inevitable that, to achieve further reductions in carbon emissions, we need to look for improvements elsewhere, such as heating and cooling of buildings, which accounts for 25% of all UK final energy consumption and 15% of carbon emissions.

Project SaFEGround aims to provide a template for reducing emissions associated to heating and cooling through the deployment of heat pumps. These are efficient devices capable of extracting heat from a storage medium, e.g. air for air-source heat pumps or the ground for ground-source heat pumps, and this is done with high efficiency, since for each unit of electricity consumed by the system, it is usual to get 3-4 units of heat. Clearly, these are more environmentally-friendly than boilers as they require only electricity, which, as mentioned above, is increasingly being generated from renewable and low-carbon sources.

Therefore, SaFEGround will investigate how ground-source heat pumps can be coupled with civil engineering structures to deliver low-carbon heating and cooling in a sustainable, safe and efficient manner. To achieve this, SaFEGround will combine research on material science, heat pump technology, energy geotechnics, building energy systems modelling, whole-system modelling and finance, to demonstrate that ground source energy systems can play an important role in the UK's future low-carbon energy mix in a cost-effective manner.
Description UCD Workshop - Geothermal Energy, Thermal Energy Storage & District Heating 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a one-day workshop organised by University College Dublin to discuss current research on geothermal energy, thermal energy storage and district heating. The audience was mostly engineering practitioners who engaged with SaFEGround's research on thermo-active piles.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022