Ground-coupled heat pumps (GCHPs) have a great potential for reducing the cost and climate change impact of building heating, cooling, and domestic hot water (DHW). The high installation cost is a major barrier to their diffusion but, under certain conditions (climate, building use, alternative fuels, etc.), the investment can be profitable in the long term. We present a comprehensive modeling study on GCHPs, performed with the dynamic energy simulation software TRNSYS, reproducing the operating conditions of three building types (residential, office, and hotel), with two insulation levels of the building envelope (poor/good), with the climate conditions of six European cities. Simulation results highlight the driving variables for heating/cooling peak loads and yearly demand, which are the input to assess economic performance and environmental benefits of GCHPs. We found that, in Italy, GCHPs are able to reduce CO2
emissions up to 216 g CO2
/year per euro spent. However, payback times are still quite high, i.e., from 8 to 20 years. This performance can be improved by changing taxation on gas and electricity and using hybrid systems, adding a fossil-fuel boiler to cover peak heating loads, thus reducing the overall installation cost compared to full-load sized GCHP systems.
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