Hybrid Geothermal Heat Pumps for Cooling Telecommunications Data Centers

Koenraad Beckers, David Zurmuhl, Maciej Lukawski, Gloria Aguirre, George Schnaars, C. Anderson, Jefferson Tester

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The technical and economic performance of geothermal heat pump (GHP) systems supplying year-round cooling to representative small data centers with cooling loads less than 500 kWth were analyzed and compared to air-source heat pumps (ASHPs). A numerical model was developed in TRNSYS software to simulate the operation of air-source and geothermal heat pumps with and without supplementary air cooled heat exchangers - dry coolers (DCs). The model was validated using data measured at an experimental geothermal system installed in Ithaca, NY, USA. The coefficient of performance (COP) and cooling capacity of the GHPs were calculated over a 20-year lifetime and compared to the performance of ASHPs. The total cost of ownership (TCO) of each of the cooling systems was calculated to assess its economic performance. Both the length of the geothermal borehole heat exchangers (BHEs) and the dry cooler temperature set point were optimized to minimize the TCO of the geothermal systems. Lastly, a preliminary analysis of the performance of geothermal heat pumps for cooling dominated systems was performed for other locations including Dallas, TX, Sacramento, CA, and Minneapolis, MN.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2018
Event43rd Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering - Stanford, California
Duration: 12 Feb 201814 Feb 2018


Conference43rd Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering
CityStanford, California

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5500-71257


  • air-source heat pump (ASHP)
  • computer room air conditioning (CRAC)
  • data center cooling
  • geothermal heat pump (GHP)
  • ground-source heat pump (GSHP)
  • techno-economic modeling


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