Every possible energy source exists within 100 miles of West Virginia University’s Morgantown campus, so it only makes sense that the University explores a variety of sustainable ways to heat and cool some 250 buildings on nearly 2,000 acres.
And in keeping with its “Go First” motto, WVU could become home to the first geothermal direct-use heating and cooling system in the eastern United States.
“WVU’s Morgantown campus is uniquely positioned to host the first geothermal direct-use district heating and cooling system on the east coast, which could open doors to more widespread use of this technology,” said Brian Anderson, director of WVU’s Energy Institute.
Thanks to a $720,000 grant from the Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office, WVU’s Energy Institute, in partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the West Virginia Geologic and Economic Survey and Cornell University, will analyze the geologic resources around the Morgantown campus to see if that is feasible.
“With an abundance of natural resources literally at our feet, the time is now to reap the benefits of the value beneath the ground,” Anderson said. “This funding is a great step forward in having WVU in our hometown of Morgantown be the first to combine the technologies developed by the oil and gas industry in our region to extract geothermal energy for heating and cooling.”
Over the course of two years, the partners will develop a design model and optimization of the full geothermal direct-use system. Upon completion of the proposed project, West Virginia University will decide whether or not to make this significant investment and continue to pursue the construction of a GDHC system for the campus.
WVU Facilities Management is pursuing options to provide heating and cooling to the campus, and estimates that geothermal could save up to $1 million each year in heating and cooling costs.
A study by Anderson in 2006 suggests that, unlike much of the eastern United States, natural geologic factors suggest geothermal heating and cooling is possible in northeastern West Virginia.
The WVU-led project is one of six projects funded by the Geothermal Technologies Office to examine the feasibility of deep direct-use geothermal.
Brian Anderson; Director, WVU Energy Institute
Novak, Communicator, WVU Energy Institute