Long Term Performance of Ground Source Heat Pump Systems

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Civil Engineering


Ground source heat pump systems offer a sustainable way to reduce heating and cooling demand for buildings through the use of the ground as a seasonal thermal store. Access to the thermal store is made via ground heat exchangers, which are then connected to a heat pump and the building heating and cooling delivery system. Well performing ground source heat pump systems should offer efficiencies of around four or more, meaning substantial energy savings. However, studies of post installation performance by government agencies and other researchers suggest that this degree of energy efficiency is not being realised in many cases. This underperformance may be due to a number of reasons including, problems with design or specification, inappropriate control systems, or final building use incompatibility to design stage assumptions. These issues can all be compounded by the difficulty of accurately determining the thermal demand of buildings before their occupancy.

Historically, ground source heat pump systems in the UK have been installed without any due regard to following up monitoring. This has meant that valuable lessons about design and operation have not been learnt. GI Energy Ltd and the University of Leeds have been gathering performance data for a number of installed ground source heat pump systems. This offers an unrivalled opportunity to assess the appropriateness of current design and control systems in routine use, compare operational conditions to those assumed during design and to make recommendations for better practice in the future.

The PhD project will interpret the energy performance of a number of operating ground source heat pump systems in the UK and determine the factors involved with successful schemes. Analysis of datasets from the buildings will also allow systematic validation of design approaches based on real performance, something currently lacking in the industry.

The project aims are to:
1. Apply analytical method to data sets from case study buildings to determine the performance of the heat pumps systems, and potential causes for underperformance/over-performance;
2. Develop and validate building and ground heat exchanger models to explore the reasons behind the underperformance, and to test scenarios not available from the field datasets.
3. Create a summary of transferrable recommendations to optimise performance of the heat pump systems;
4. Design a smart monitoring system and monitoring regime, incorporating the recommendations to achieve greater efficiencies.

The project will be of interest to building developers, ground source heat SMEs, building designers and operators who will be able to use the results to achieve better building energy performance.

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R513258/1 30/09/2018 29/09/2023
2293511 Studentship EP/R513258/1 30/04/2019 30/11/2022 Joshua Turner
Description Research England Policy Support Fund - facilitating shared ground heat exchange networks
Amount £16,332 (GBP)
Organisation United Kingdom Research and Innovation 
Department Research England
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2021 
End 03/2022
Title Literature Review for the Net Zero Industry Coalition heat decarbonisation roadmaps 
Description This data contains the sources consulted for, and key characteristics of, 87 pathways for decarbonisation of heating in the UK. These form the basis of a literature review carried out for the Net Zero Infrastructure Coalition, and summarised in the report "Net Zero Infrastructure Coalition: Heat Decarbonisation Roadmaps". The literature review was carried out to understand the range of heat decarbonisation pathways that have already been proposed by industry, academia and other organisations, and identify any especially useful pathways to act as a starting point for further development of the roadmaps contained within the report. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This data supported a widely circulated and read industry report, included elsewhere within research fish 
URL https://archive.researchdata.leeds.ac.uk/690/
Description BGS 
Organisation British Geological Survey
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have been interpreting data collected by the BGS on the performance of an open loop ground source heat pump system in Cardiff
Collaborator Contribution We are both members of the IEA Annex 52 where advise from other partners has been available.
Impact Outputs to follow completion of the research work
Start Year 2020
Description Leeds CC 
Organisation Leeds City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have instrumented heating systems in blocks of social housing owned by LCC
Collaborator Contribution We have also worked with Leeds Beckett University, Kensa Contracting and Cenergist on this work
Impact Outcomes will follow with completion of the project
Start Year 2020
Description Contribution to "The Path to Zero Carbon Heat" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Fleur Loveridge, Tom Dolan, Josh Turner and other UKCRIC members contributed to the working group for the Net-Zero Infrastructure Industry Coalition report on The Path to Zero Carbon Heat. UKCRIC in particular contributed to the literature review and a number of workshops to develop the roadmaps.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.mottmac.com/releases/race-for-heat-decarbonisation-would-spur-uks-green-economic-recover...
Description Piling 2020 Presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A talk to the Piling 2020 conference, presenting the paper published in the conference proceedings
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
Description Policy Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A policy workshop on shared ground heat exchange with local authorities, SMEs and consumer groups.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022