Geothermal energy system adopted by Missouri S&T

Old power plant shut down to make way for geothermal power.

Since 1945, the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus has received steam energy from a coal and wood chip burning power plant, but the facility was permanently closed on May 21, 2014 and will be replaced by a geothermal energy system.

17 buildings on campus will receive heating and cooling from the system.

Missouri S&T’s geothermal power system will be fully operational by the fall of this year and, in addition to providing heat and air conditioning to the 17 buildings, it will also provide the majority of the buildings on campus with chilled water.

Three separate facilities make up the geothermal system. These plants will dispense power from the system to various parts of the campus. A fourth plant, which is to be completed during the summer, will heat and cool the Gale Bullman Building.

According to Missouri S&T director of facilities operations James Packard, since the start of April, the three main campus plants have had fully operational heat recovery chillers and the system has provided heat to six campus buildings. Furthermore, as of mid April, it has provided most of the chilled water that is used for campus air conditioning. “The number of buildings being served by the geothermal energy system will probably double within a week,” Packard said.

The geothermal energy system is predicted to lower the university’s yearly power consumption by 50%.

It is also expected to decrease CO2 by 25,000 metric tons annually. This decrease is about equal to the greenhouse gas emissions of 4,600 passenger vehicles each year. Moreover, the system will lower the University’s water consumption by more than 10% (10 million gallons a year) and eliminate a backlog in deferred $34 million maintenance costs for the old power plant.

It is anticipated that the geothermal energy project will save the University over $1 million in operational and energy costs every year and it is approximated that this savings will grow to $2.8 million annually. The construction of the system – the drilling of wells around the campus – began in May 2012. There will be an estimated 790 wells used by the geothermal facilities.

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