Selected Projects Will Help Communities Cut Carbon Pollution, Lower Utility Bills, Create Jobs, and Expand Adoption of Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced 11 communities across 10 states have been selected to design community geothermal heating and cooling systems. Using clean geothermal energy for heating and cooling can help American cities across the country meet their energy needs, drive down costs, create jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Community-scale geothermal systems are relatively common outside the United States but have a comparably small presence domestically. These selections represent the first of two phases in a $13 million initiative to support the design and eventual deployment of community geothermal heating and cooling systems. Increasing the use of geothermal heating and cooling nationwide will contribute to President Biden’s goal of a net-zero economy by 2050. The projects are part of President Biden’s Justice40 initiative, which sets a goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.
“Supporting the design and deployment of geothermal heating and cooling will expand the uses of clean energy in decarbonizing our communities,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “With today’s announcements, DOE is providing the possibility of wider adoption of these geothermal systems which can go a long way in decarbonizing the building and electricity sectors.”
Community geothermal systems tap the earth’s subsurface to provide heating and cooling to multiple residences and businesses through an underground distribution network. Such systems can use a variety of technologies, including geothermal heat pumps and direct use of geothermal hot water. They help to decarbonize buildings by providing low-carbon heating and cooling, while supporting decarbonization of the electricity sector by providing a pathway for clean heating and cooling that does not substantially increase electricity demand.
The projects feature urban, suburban, rural, and remote communities and a range of system sizes, technologies, and geographies—offering diverse case studies that will help other communities see how they can also implement community geothermal. The 11 selected projects, which include more than 60 partners across the United States, will be executed by community coalitions offering skills and expertise in community needs, workforce, design and analysis, and deployment. The selected projects are:
Cities/towns with populations of 10,000 or more and all communities located within a metropolitan statistical area as defined by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
- Ann Arbor, MI (Lead: City of Ann Arbor)—Looped geothermal system paired with efficiency improvements, rooftop solar, and battery storage to heat and cool 262 households, an elementary school, a community center, a mental health facility, and a public works site.
- Chicago, IL (Lead: Blacks in Green™)—Shared community geothermal network across four city blocks containing more than 100 multi-family and single-family residential buildings in a disadvantaged section of the city’s South Side.
- Duluth, MN (Lead: City of Duluth)—Geothermal system using waste heat from the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District to cover 100% of heating loads in a disadvantaged neighborhood.
- Framingham, MA (Lead: Home Energy Efficiency Team)—Geothermal heat-pump heating and cooling system adjacent to another geothermal demonstration project and integrated with other renewable energy systems in a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse city.
- New York City, NY (Lead: Electric Power Research Institute)—Geothermal heating and cooling system to serve a minimum of 25% of apartments in a portfolio of 5,000 apartments identified for geothermal upgrades.
- Wallingford, CT (Lead: CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection)—District geothermal heating and cooling system that will serve at least 50% of the heating and cooling load of a 132-unit, affordable housing complex.
Towns/unincorporated areas with populations of less than 10,000 that do not fall within a metropolitan statistical area and are not remote.
- Carbondale, CO (Lead: Clean Energy Economy for the Region)—Geothermal heat pumps to support a net-zero energy district and heat and cool school district offices, a library, 20 affordable housing units, a high school, a center for nonprofits, and townhomes.
- Middlebury, VT (Lead: GTI Energy)—Geothermal system to meet at least 50% of the heating and cooling needs for a new affordable housing development of townhomes, duplex, and multiplex units, with more than 30% of units intended for low- and medium-income households.
- Seward, AK (Lead: City of Seward)—Community-scale heating and cooling system that will refine the existing design of a CO2 heat-pump system to meet nearly all heating demand for half of municipal buildings.
- Shawnee, OK (Lead: University of Oklahoma)—Combined solar and geothermal heat pump heating and cooling system, to be demonstrated in a community owned and operated by a Tribal Nation.
Geographically isolated from reliable grid transmission or population centers, resulting in limited access to centralized energy systems.
- Nome, AK (Lead: Kawerak, Inc.)—Direct-use geothermal district-scale system that will provide heating and hot water to buildings and cooling to food storage areas.
In the first phase, coalitions will design their systems, finalize project sites and use, assess the geothermal resource, analyze environmental and permitting needs, conduct feasibility analysis and local engagement, and identify workforce and training needs. Based on first-phase outcomes, DOE will select a subset of projects to advance to a second phase and deploy their systems.
For more information about geothermal heating and cooling, visit DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office website.
Selection for award negotiations is not a commitment by DOE to issue an award or provide funding. Before funding is issued, DOE and the applicants will undergo a negotiation process, and DOE may cancel negotiations and rescind the selection for any reason during that time.