Geothermal technology uses the earth’s natural thermal energy—a renewable resource—to heat your home. While outdoor temperatures fluctuate substantially with the seasons, subsurface ground and water temperatures remain relatively constant year–round. A geothermal loop, running underground or underwater, capitalizes on these constant temperatures.
In the winter, fluid circulating through the loop absorbs heat and carries it indoors where it is compressed to a higher temperature and distributed throughout your home. In the summer, the system reverses, pulling heat from your home and using the loop to deposit it in the cooler earth or water.
Geothermal systems simply transfer heat to and from the earth or pond.
Operational Geothermal Projects
- Congressman Jeff Fortenberry installed a geothermal system at his residence. Two wells were punched into the ground, both 180 feet deep, on the side of his house. Small pipes run through the wells and circulate water to capture the underground temperature differential. The seven–degree differential is harnessed in the geothermal unit and transferred into valuable energy: coolant during summer and heat during winter.
- The Nebraska State Patrol replaced their heating/cooling system with a geothermal heat pump in buildings in Norfolk, Grand Island, and North Platte.
- The Bridges is the state's first totally geothermal residential neighborhood located in Lincoln, Nebraska. The neighborhood is comprised of 70 lots.
- The Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Geneva replaced or upgraded their heating/cooling system with a geothermal heat pump in Burroughs Cottage, Sandoz Cottage, and Sacajawea Cottage.
- Morrissey Engineering’s commitment to sustainable design includes the use of renewable energy. Their 4940 Building in Omaha, Nebraska, captures energy from renewable resources such as sunlight, wind and ground-source energy, all of which can be monitored in real time. These renewable energy sources combined with other energy-reducing components have helped Morrissey achieve a 38 percent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to an average building of similar occupancy and geographic location. The 4940 Building has also attained an approximate 48 percent savings in utilities compared to an ASHRAE 90.1 baseline building. Morrissey Engineering supplements its heating and cooling through a ground source energy transfer system. Liquid is pumped through 80 boreholes each drilled to a depth of 100 feet. With this liquid, heat is removed from the office space and transferred to the ground in the summer. During the winter, heat from the earth is used to heat the office space. Four 2-inch circuits of 20 holes each comprise the loop system designed by Morrissey Engineering. This is served by 13 geothermal heat pumps ranging in size from 1.5 to four tons for a total installed capacity of 38 tons.
- Russ Finch is the owner of the Greenhouse in the Snow, which taps in to the core of the earth's own energy, geothermal heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. Perforated plastic tubes make a circuit underground outside the greenhouse in a trench 8-feet deep where Finch says the temperature remains a steady 52 degrees year-round. A fan moves air through the tubes and into the greenhouse when it gets too hot or cold. The design of the greenhouse was sold to several entities including an Alliance, Nebraska, high school.
- Alliance High School's Greenhouse.
- Lincoln Campbell Elementary School, Lincoln Cavett Elementary School, Lincoln Maxey Elementary School, Lincoln Roper Elementary School, and three additional Lincoln Elementary Schools.
- The Hickman Community Center is a 16,940–square–foot building that has a geothermal well system with 49 well points. It's energy–efficient and has all LED lighting.
- Lincoln Police Department's Center Team Station.
For more information, see Units and Capacity (Pages 64–68) .
Note: Private geothermal projects operating under Nebraska's net–metering statutes are included in the totals in Nebraska's Net Metering Reports. Projects are not individually listed to provide the power source.