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New York Startup is a way for homeowners to get into thermal power | Rare Techy


(Bloomberg) — Elaine Weir’s home doesn’t sit on a volcano. It is also not surrounded by natural hot springs. But that didn’t stop the 69-year-old retiree from Scarsdale, New York, from heating his house with geothermal energy.

Every day, the plastic pipes buried in Weir’s backyard heat up from 300 feet underground, keeping the ground temperature around 55F (13C) year-round. Two heat pumps installed in his basement capture the heat by circulating the heat through the pipes, sending the heat to his home. In summer, the same thermal system cools the house.

“It’s the most efficient way you can heat and cool your house,” says Weir, who replaced his gas boiler with geothermal heat pumps in 2020. Although he wants to switch to washing power, Weir found another benefit. . His utility bills have not increased since installation despite rising electricity prices in recent years. Without a breeze blowing through the day, he found his summer season much better. Now exotic trees are blooming in the space occupied by AC units.

Dandelion Energy, a startup based in Mount Kisco, New York, helped Weir make the switch. It provides homeowners with access to thermal energy right from under their feet.

Since its spin-off from Alphabet Inc., the five-year-old company has already received backing from investors such as Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Alphabet’s energy arm. This week, Dandelion raised another $70 million from institutional investors including NGP ETP, LenX and Mutual Fund.

Dandelion is a one-stop solution for those who want to buy and install heat pumps. Homeowners are also offered assistance in removing old furnaces.

“Since your home is located on the ground, most of them are, you have access to geothermal energy resources,” says Kathy Hannun, co-founder of Dandelion.

So far the startup has installed heat pumps in more than 1,000 homes. It aims to double its installations next year by replicating a so-called “pay as you go” business model that has accelerated the use of solar power. an individual building or a small group of buildings,” said Jefferson Tester, a professor specializing in sustainable energy at Cornell University. citing concerns about the technology’s need for a large underground area, and the energy source used to power the heat pumps. If the heat pump runs on electricity from fossil fuels, emissions cannot be eliminated, he said.

Buildings are important in tackling climate change. About 15% of greenhouse gas emissions from offices, retail stores and residences in 2020, a large portion of which comes from burning fossil fuels for heating and cooling. Although emission cuts vary with different conditions, the efficiency of the heat pump and the energy sources used to operate the heat pump, Dandelion claims that its thermal system can reduce the carbon emissions of an home in New York state by 75% if the home is converted from oil.

Startups are reinventing old geothermal drilling with the help of a 21st century “treasure map”. Unlike geothermal operators who usually rely on experience to guide them In their work, which often turns out to be a larger and deeper source than necessary, Dandelion uses geospatial data obtained from a company that Hannun declined to identify to identify the the depth of each excavation. “This is a cost savings driver for our homeowners,” he said.

Buying and installing a Dandelion heat pump can cost as little as $18,000 even after taxes. In contrast, the cost of an air conditioner runs from $3,800 to $7,500, while the cost of a gas furnace is $2,000 to $6,000. And cost isn’t the only deterrent: Few people in the U.S. have heard of tapping into the ground as a source of heat or heat for their homes, because it’s a hard sell to homeowners. the village.

Dandelion operates in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, and plans to expand into Maryland and Colorado. That delay left Hannun with no choice but to purchase a non-Dandelion heating system this year for his California home, which is beyond his company’s services.

But Michael Sachse, CEO of Dandelion, said business is starting to take off. The company plans to install about 500 heat pumps by 2022, which is the same as all of its installations in the first four years.

Much of that growth resulted from increased public awareness of heat pump thermal technology and deepening concerns about energy security amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to to Sachse. The Emissions Reduction Act, which was passed in August and increased federal tax credits for thermal power, will become a regulatory mandate. The playbook of U.S. solar power producers, their residential capacity increased in 2014 to 3.9 gigawatts last year. As new incentives emerge, Dandelion is in talks with banks, structural funds and other financial partners that may change. a program that allows homeowners to apply for a cash advance. However, they can pay for the thermal heat pump during use.

“Funding is important,” Sachse said. “If you look at the growth of residential solar in America, the rental model is a big part of that. Now, that opportunity exists for us.”

–With help from Mark Bergen.

©2022 Bloomberg LP


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