OU team with first place certificate

The Sooners Geothermal Team, first-place winners of the U.S. Department of Energy 2022 Geothermal Collegiate Competition, pose with competition organizer Caity Smith during their community event.

On September 2, 2022, the Sooners Geothermal Team from the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy at the University of Oklahoma (OU), celebrated their first-place win in the Geothermal Technologies Office’s (GTO) Geothermal Collegiate Competition (GCC) by hosting a community event. At the event, the team shared their geothermal project design as well as the benefits of geothermal energy with local stakeholders.

GTO awarded the OU team $10,000 for designing a system that repurposes six abandoned oil and gas wells in Shawnee, Oklahoma, to provide clean, renewable geothermal energy for local educational and municipal buildings, including sites within the Absentee Shawnee Tribe and Potawatomi Nation jurisdiction. 

"Geothermal is the future,” said University of Oklahoma (OU) student Cesar Vivas at a geothermal community event hosted by the champions of the GCC. "It is the only renewable that can be a baseload source of power and is not limited by seasonal factors. You can develop geothermal energy anywhere, so I recommend anyone to apply to this competition."

Yuxing Wu, a postdoctoral researcher at OU responsible for modeling and economic development for the GCC project, is also excited for the future. 

"Next step, we want to let more people know we have this project, collect some funding, and then we want to make it real—not just on paper," Wu said.

The work of the Sooners Geothermal Team showcases the potential for transferring oil and gas towards securing a clean energy future. Investments in repurposing oil and gas facilities for renewable energy will expand U.S. geothermal energy capabilities, create more clean energy jobs, and provide opportunities for oil and gas workers to transition to careers in the renewable energy industry.

The team’s research also aligns with GTO’s Wells of Opportunity (WOO) initiative, which aims to unlock the potential of geothermal energy from abandoned and existing wells. Independent of the GCC and the proposed project in Shawnee, OK, GTO selected an OU research team for funding under the WOO ReAmplify project in January 2022. This project focuses on geothermal energy production from existing hydrocarbon fields. University of Oklahoma hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony in September 2022 to kick off the project. 

Keep an eye out for updates on the next Geothermal Collegiate Competition, scheduled for Spring 2023. In the meantime, learn more about the Geothermal Collegiate Competition