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U.S. Department of Energy awards District Energy Corporation $5 million in stimulus funds for geothermal project



The U.S. Department of Energy awarded the District Energy Corporation (DEC) $5 million in stimulus funds Oct. 29, 2009, to install a ground source geothermal heat pump demonstration project in Lancaster County (Nebraska). The funding is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

While a total of $61.9 million in grants were awarded in this geothermal category, only three out of 37 projects received $5 million in matching funds, ranging from $146,973 to $5 million.

The DEC will install a district geothermal energy plant to serve the new Lancaster County Adult Detention Facility, which is scheduled to be completed in late 2011. The facility is planned to be the largest geothermal ground-source loop field system for a county detention facility in the United States.


The geothermal energy plant will provide heating, cooling and backup electricity to the facility, using renewable energy sources. The geothermal loop field will consist of between 650 and 750 bore holes at 300-foot depth. Water will be circulated through a matrix of 300-foot-deep wells as part of a closed-loop system. In summer, warm water will be cooled as it moves through plastic pipes. That's because the ground has a constant temperature of about 55 degrees. In the winter, cool water will be warmed by the temperature of the ground.


Grant recipients will demonstrate the deployment of ground source heat pumps for heating and cooling of a variety of buildings and customer types, including academic institutions, local governments and commercial buildings.

These grants are directed toward identifying and developing new geothermal fields and reducing the upfront risk associated with geothermal development through innovative exploration and drilling projects and data development and collection. The grants also support the development and creative financing approaches for ground source heat pump demonstration projects across the country.

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