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