The Promise of Geothermal Energy

Thermal energy networks can build grid resilience, provide a stable source of energy, and offer continued employment to utility workers skilled in traditional energy infrastructure.

1 minute read

October 8, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Workers next to excavator digging a geothermal well.

Workers drilling a geothermal well. | RGtimeline / Adobe Stock

Geothermal energy networks will soon become more available in the United States, writes June Kim in Technology Review. “In Framingham, Massachusetts, work has started on the country’s first geothermal network pilot project. Eversource, the utility company in charge, says it has completed 70% of the pipe installation and is on track to finish the project in November.” Meanwhile, New York was the first state to mandate thermal energy network projects from its largest utilities in 2022, and other states are moving forward with similar legislation.

According to Kim, “The advantages of thermal energy networks extend beyond reducing carbon emissions. Scaling them up from a few buildings to a community or utility level can also help make the grid more resilient and efficient.” This is in part because thermal energy, often acquired from waste heat, provides a more stable energy source than other renewables.

Geothermal energy networks are also attractive to unions because, unlike wind or solar installations with new and different technologies and equipment, they “rely heavily on underground piping systems, presenting an opportunity for workers with expertise in maintaining natural gas pipes to transition seamlessly into roles on those kinds of projects.”

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