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⚡ The Switch to Geothermal Energy

Climate Tech Cocktails

Photo by Mark Kuiper / Unsplash

Host: Matt Myers
Guest: Kathy Hannun | Founder & President | Dandelion Energy
Category: ⚡ Renewable Energy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[12:26] “Different places on the earth have different amounts of energy. So Iceland is fortunate to be near a very energetic patch of earth. But for most houses [that are] on the ground, the ground tends to maintain a stable temperature year round, […] around 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the markets we serve today. And while 50 degrees is colder than you'd want to heat your home to, you can actually use that within a geothermal heat pump system in your house. It collects heat at that temperature, runs it through the heat pump, which then boosts the heat to 100 degrees, that's then blown around your house. So even though you're not directly piping heat from the ground into your house, you still get this huge efficiency gain just from using that heat that's in the ground.”

[13:29] “For a typical geothermal system that we install 80% of the energy used to heat a home will just be that renewable energy from the ground and 20% will be electricity from the grid. It's mostly renewable. And as we make the grid renewable, the 20% will be solved as well.”

[16:54] “Some homes do use electricity for heating today. But most in this country use fossil fuels. So they use directly natural gas or oil or propane. So when you put in a heat pump, whether it’s a ground source heat pump, which is another word for geothermal heat pump, or an air source heat pump, you're just eliminating the need to burn that fuel. So your electricity bill is actually going to go up, because all the sudden you're paying for some electricity to run your heating system, but you don't have any fuel bill. So you come out way ahead.”

[21:14] “You can have a geothermal heat pump anywhere you have adequate access to the ground. So you need some yard, for example. […] When we think about where we should go next geographically, it's all about economics. So we target places that are very expensive for homeowners today to heat and cool. For example, our birthplace New York, it's very common for homes to use fuel oil, which is just an extremely dirty and very expensive way of heating […] your house. But because the winters are so cold in New York, you need to buy a lot of it, and it's very expensive. So you have people with very high heating bills. And that just means when they switch to geo, they save the most money, they have the most to gain. […] I would say the least attractive market for us would probably be [a place like] San Francisco, because the air temperature does not differ that much from the ground temperature at any point in time.”

[23:48] “People are a little intimidated by the idea of a drill coming onto their property. […] We actually had to earn our way to even tackling that challenge. […] The thing that a lot of investors raised at the beginning is the reason this wouldn't work is there's a big question about would people even want geothermal? Let's say we could make it cost effective, which is really our mission. Would people even want it? And that was a big question mark in 2017, when I started the company. […] For the first six months to a year of the company, it was really all about just figuring [that] out. How do we even package this in a in a way that people typical homeowners in upstate New York […] would […] buy it?”

[30:23] “During that first go to market, we were only in the Albany area. And we might have done a few dozen customers that year. And now, it's only […] three years later from that, […] we're closing in on 1,000 customers. […] And we're now in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, thinking about entering a few of the neighboring states. […] What we've done is almost nothing in the infinite sea of fossil fuel houses. And yet, […] fall of 2018 was only three years ago, and think about how far we've come.

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify (Original Title: "Dandelion Energy: Kathy Hannun")
🕰️ 1 hr 7 min | 🗓️ 12/07/2021
✅ Time saved: 1 hr 5 min

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