IT HAS been estimated that the global ground source heating market will be worth a £1 billion by 2020, and in line with this forecast, UK agriculture is expanding its use of the technology, as more farmers turn to systems which transfer heat and cooling from the ground.

According to recent chair of the Ground Source Heat Pumps Association (GSHPA) John Findlay, the upward trend is in part due to a rise in RHI incentives: “The government has significantly raised RHI for ground source heat pumps meaning long-term, fixed returns are obtainable and they’re now higher than biomass incentives.

"There is a higher upfront cost but it’s a long-term investment, with payback over five to eight years generally (with RHI) and a typical 8% return on investment.”

Farmers wanting to find out more about the opportunities in ground source heating might like to to attend the Energy and Rural Business Show next February

at the Telford International Centre, Shropshire, where there will be a dedicated ground source heat pumps pavilion with suppliers and experts to inform on installations.

“Ground source heating is a very long-lived and low maintenance solution to both heating and cooling and provides a fully sustainable supply of renewable energy," said Mr Findlay. "The carbon footprint of a GSHP system is reducing all the time. With the life of a heat pump in excess of 25 years, some of the systems installed today will, within their operating lifetime, become truly zero-carbon systems."

Geoff Ellison of Dragon Drilling works with many farmers to install ground source heat pumps and says putting in a system takes good planning but once it’s in, the rewards are long-lasting “RHI payments are fixed for 20 years and they’re index-linked.

“Ground source heat pumps work via heat-exchange pipes laid underground, either horizontally or vertically in boreholes. Fluid in the pipework absorbs heat from the earth and transfers it to a heat pump,” he explained.

“Each installation is different, and our geologists assess the underlying strata and heating/cooling requirements of the building to advise on the design and dimensions of borehole or trench, guiding our customers through the installation process."

Both the GSHPA and Dragon Drilling will be at the Energy and Rural Business Show to explain how ground source energy can help farmers and landowners address the key issue of global warming in a practical way, saving on energy bills and benefitting from financial incentives.

The event is free to attend, and tickets can be booked at: