I’ve got a story in this morning’s Toronto Star about low-temperature geothermal — a.k.a “earth energy systems” or “ground-source heat pumps” or “geoexchange systems” — and rapid sales of the systems in Canada, particularly Ontario. I’ll gloss over the details here, but essentially sales growth of the systems in Canada is in the range of 45 to 55 per cent and far outpaces growth in the United States. Ontario over the past 15 months has outpaced the next closest province, Quebec, by a margin of more than 4 to 1 in terms of residential retrofits. The growth has been so fast that the association representing the industry, the Canadian GeoExchange Coalition, is warning consumers about fly-by-night contractors who aren’t qualified to install the systems but want to ride on the wave of demand.
Perhaps the most interesting comments came from Bruce Ritchey, president and CEO of Indiana-based Waterfurnace Renewable Energy Inc., one of the top sellers of geothermal systems in North America. While overall revenue growth in the company’s last quarter is in the range of 20 per cent, sales to Canada were up about 120 per cent compared to the previous year. In Ontario growth was 200 per cent. Ritchey said sales to Canada have been “phenomenal,” and attributes it to strong government incentives, increased awareness of the technology, and an economy that has been impacted less by the U.S. housing crisis. Of course, rising fuel and electricity prices is also driving sales across the board in all jurisdictions.