Geothermal Exchange System, Basque Country, Spain


The object of the project is to use low-enthalpy geothermal exchange system for heating and cooling one building in the University of Deusto, Bilbao. The plant provides heating and cooling for a built surface of 10,000 m2. Project based on an agreement between the University of Deusto and the regional energy agency-EVE. 

Results and impacts

Start Date: 2010 
End Date: 2010 
Cumulative investment made by 
stakeholders in sustainable energy: 774 
Economic savings: 101 kEuro/year 
Operational costs: 98 kEuro/year 
Simple payback time: 5.8 year 
Renewable energy capacity installed p.a.: 
557 kW 
Energy savings electricity: 300 MWh/year 
Energy savings heat p.a.: 1,200 MWh/year 
Primary energy savings: 129 toe/year 
Reductions of greenhouse gas emissions: 452 t CO2e/year

Aims and objectives of this sustainable energy action

The most immediate goal is to reduce consumption of fossil fuels in a existing building which needed to be refurbished. The alternative system for the geothermal exchange system would be a fuel oil boiler for heating and an air-water heat pump for cooling. The geothermal system also uses the conventional generation for support, to give only the 15% of the total energy demanded by the building.

Technical and financial implementation

The system has a geothermal exchange capacity of 557 kW for heating and 519 kW for cooling, respectively 52% and 41% of 
the peak load. It covers 89% of the heating and warm sanitary water needs (1.152 MWh/year) and 80% of the cooling needs 
(775 MWh/year). The geothermal circuit has 9,400 linear metres and it is placed below gardens and pavement. 
- 2009: First contact and feasibility study. 
- 2010: Carrying out pilot survey and TRT. Redesign of the system. Final project design. Planning of works. 

Completion of works and commissioning of the installation by the end of the year.

Lessons learnt

- When promoting geoexchange based heat pumps, it is difficult to convince the technical managers about the advantages of the technology due to the lack of experience. However, facilities of this type are becoming more frequent and the barrier associated with the promotion of a new technology is slowly being outcome.

- The lack of knowledge on the technology in our country and the lack of specialized companies is solved through information and education seminars organized by the Administration. Also, a public-private partnership has been created to provide services in this area.

- The initial investment is higher than a conventional system, although they are amortized over a discrete period of time. Grants help to reduce the initial capital requirements.

How this action could be replicated

This good practice would be replicable in a less costly way in those countries where this technology is more developed, 
because they would not have to overcome the lack of knowledge and implementation that this region had in the beginning 
of this project. 
In addition, it is important to convince the promoters of new buildings or refurbishing old ones about the advantages of the use of this energy and its amortization over a short period of time in a context of high energy prices.


This project is based on an agreement between the University of Deusto and EVE by which EVE subsidizes part of the geothermal installation in one of the buildings of the University, in the process of rehabilitation. 

Contact details

Ente Vasco de la Energía - EVE 
Alameda de Urquijo, 36 - 1º. 48011, BILBAO 
T: (34) 944 035 600 
Alvaro Perez de Laborda; 

Further information