The American University of Central Asia that opened the doors to its new campus in 2015 was the first private company to introduce geothermal heating in the Central Asian region.
The practical value of geothermal heating systems, known for years, has been mostly ignored in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia as a whole.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said at the opening of the new campus last year:
This new campus is special because it is the first private construction project in Central Asia that is clean green all the way –- that means geothermal heating and cooling, state-of-the-art sewage, irrigation systems, and the highest standard of energy efficiency in the entire region.
In simple terms, a geothermal pump exchanges heat between a building and the ground.
During the cold months, it uses the heat absorbed from the ground and transfers it into the building. For cooling, it goes the other way: extracting heat from the building and taking it down to the ground to cool.
Geothermal heating’s efficiency and low maintenance costs make it attractive from an economic standpoint. The university expects to have reduce energy consumption by 87% over time, justifying an expensive initial investment in the pump.
Currently, it is the start-up costs of such projects, combined with the Soviet legacy of subsidised electricity, that is discouraging more businesses in the country from taking the same route.
Nevertheless, with the country’s Soviet-era system visibly wilting, Kyrgyzstan’s energy future seems destined to be determined by off-grid responses to on-grid failure.
Originally published: here