Earth Source Heat

The Earth Source Heat project will utilize stored heat from the Earth to generate heat for campus...

Earth Source Heat is a Neutrality goal in the Cornell Climate Action Plan (CAP).

Eliminate fossil fuel combustion for heating campus by developing an Earth Source Heat (ESH) System hybridized with biogas (B/ESH). Prepare a preliminary design and phased implementation plan and build a demonstration project.

Goal: Build a demonstration project and assess the feasibility of installing a full-scale project that would allow Cornell to substantially heat the campus using only natural, renewable resources and stored heat energy from the earth. Completely realized, this hybrid innovation could provide for over 82,000 metric tons (CO2 equivalent) of average annual carbon abatement – more than 38% of the university’s current carbon footprint.

Infographic Hybrid EGS System-Utiltizing Earth's Natual Energy

ESH is an emerging technology that utilizes heat energy available deep beneath the Earth’s surface to generate heating and electricity via distribution equipment located at the surface. Cornell’s Hybrid Earth Source Heating project is a combination of two innovative, demonstration-scale research projects: Earth Source Heating and biomass gasification. The hybrid system would link ESH to a biomass-to-biogas system. During very cold weather when ESH alone is not enough, biogas would be used to supply the additional heating needs of campus.

Next Steps

  • Work with development professionals at the university to actively seek public and private funding for this project, using recent analyses conducted by the Cornell Energy Institute.
  • Study, conceptually design, and develop financial metrics for a small-scale demonstration project to include a single well pair, heat exchange facilities, and interconnection for target areas on North Campus and East Campus.
  • Complete a Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF) to document the project’s potential environmental, social, and economic impacts.
  • Draft a white paper that documents the steps needed over the next decade to bring the full-scale project to fruition.
  • This system could supply 25% of energy for campus.