ESG & Industry Updates

First Utility Scale Geothermal Network Launches Right Here in MA

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jul 6, 2023 10:36:46 AM

This June, Eversource broke ground on a new pilot program for Geothermal energy in Framingham, Massachusetts. This is the first utility scale networked geothermal network in the country, so it’s pretty exciting stuff.

The pilot program will encompass an estimated 40 homes, apartment complexes, businesses and even a fire station. The program will test if a networked geothermal system is able to meet the heating & cooling demands of grid users in a cost effective and reliable way.

Geothermal systems use water, wells, piping, and pumps to pull heat up in the winter and pump heat down through the same ground bores in the summer to cool the same structures. This is zero-emission technology that uses no fossil fuels to run. The infrastructure for geothermal setups is not insignificant, it involves boring deep holes in the earth to construct pump systems that tap into the warmer earth well below the surface. So despite being self-contained and not requiring fuel (and its associated costs) over lifetime use, geothermal is not a cheap source of energy in terms of upfront cost because of the engineering and drilling construction involved.

It is also somewhat location dependent – some areas are not particularly suitable, and even in areas that are suitable, the construction requires relatively substantial land available for drilling and building. This is part of what is exciting about the Framingham project – if geothermal, which is typically thought of as a more rural based option, is able to be networked such that it can handle the energy needs of a more urban area, that potentially opens up new avenues for projects overtime to move MA toward its clean energy goals.

The video below is from Eversource about how networked geothermal networks like the one being launched in Framingham work. It’s a very helpful, short overview.

You can read more about their project information at this link as well: Eversource - Framingham Geothermal Pilot Program

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Topics: Massachusetts, geothermal, pilot program, eversource

Massachusetts Mulls Geothermal MicroDistricts to Offset Emissions

Posted by Ed Burke on Nov 25, 2019 8:15:00 AM


The Massachusetts legislature is considering a bill that would set up what would essentially be test geothermal projects to determine if what are being called "GeoMicroDistrict"s could be used going forward for heating & cooling of buildings and neighborhoods. The goal of this is that if it works, utilities would able to buy/source geothermal for energy supply in addition to (or instead of) natural gas. 

The project would be a partnership with Eversource and the Department of Public Utilities, based off of feasibility studies performed by a UK based engineering firm (BuroHappold Engineering). The project would use existing infrastructure with the addition of bore drilled vertical holes, ambient waterlines, etc. Eversource presented a plan for the project to the DPU, and described it to the Mass Legislature for consideration.

If the project moves forward, it would be a large step forward in reducing building & residence based emissions, which have been an ongoing concern for MA cities and towns, particularly those in more dense urban type settings where solar or wind farms are space limited, as are the accompanying larger scale batteries they would require to ensure full reliability. Geothermal may be a good option to "fill in the gaps" other renewable sources can leave in different settings.  

You can read more detail on the project here: Massachusetts Considers Substituting Geothermal for Natural Gas

(Not really clear on what geothermal is exactly? The US EIA has a good quick overview here: EIA: Geothermal Explained )

Massachusetts has committed to aggressively reducing carbon emissions, and geothermal has been coming up increasingly often as a potential source of greener energy, whether in addition to, or in lieu of current options. In fact we have heard geothermal come up in everything from the climate change forum of the State Democratic Primary (Ed Markey versus Shannon Liss-Riordan) to budget discussions on new regional school construction. (After initial approval, Waconah high school's new building in Dalton MA will not use geothermal based on cost, you can read that local story here: Price-Conscious Waconah Panel drops Geothermal Option )

It appears that the State is seriously looking at adding more geothermal options to the energy mix in order to meet climate change mitigation goals that have been set. 

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Topics: Massachusetts Clean Cities, Climate Change, Carbon Emissions, renewable energy, geothermal

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