Duluth receives geothermal technologies award

In a press conference held in Lincoln Park on Tuesday, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson joined other city officials and members from Ever-Green Energy, Ecolibrium 3, and WLSSD to talk about a US Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office award received to design a geothermal district heating system using waste heat from WLSSD in Duluth.

“This extremely exciting opportunity to analyze and design a district geothermal and heat recovery possibility—one that hasn’t been designed in the US before—comes to us with a ton of potential to further reduce operating emissions and introduce more strategies to decarbonize many of the buildings in the district,” said Mayor Emily Larson.

The $700,000 award will support community coalitions like this one to design and deploy geothermal district heating and cooling systems, create related workforce training, and identify and address environmental justice concerns. In the first phase of the project, coalitions will design systems, finalize project sites, assess the energy resource, analyze environmental and permitting needs, conduct feasibility analysis and local engagement, and identify workforce and training needs. Based on first-phase outcomes, the Department of Energy’s GTO will select a number of projects to advance to a second phase for deployment of these systems. In addition to helping communities implement community geothermal heating and cooling systems, the initiative will provide data and case studies that will help other communities nationwide consider those systems.

Duluth is one of 11 communities in the United States to receive this award. The proposed geothermal system will use waste heat from the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) effluent to cover 100% of heating loads for a new district energy system in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.