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Geothermal power station view.

Geothermal power station

The United States is the world leader in the use of electric power from geothermal energy, but much more can be done.  Four states – California, Nevada, Hawaii and Utah – each have geothermal power plants.

North Dakota may have great potential in the area of geothermal energy, with our vast oil resources in the western part of the state.  As developers and drillers figure out ways to recover more oil from our reserves, researchers are working to find ways to create enhanced geothermal systems utilizing oil field waters to generate electric power.

The Petroleum Research, Education and Entrepreneurship Center (PREEC) and the Geothermal Technologies Program at the University of North Dakota are currently studying geothermal applications in North Dakota.

The University of North Dakota (UND) Petroleum Research Center, through a U.S. Department of Energy grant, will install two Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) engines at a Continental Resources oil well in Bowman County. Each engine will generate 125 kilowatts of power, producing a total of 250 kW. Faculty and students will conduct research for two years at the demonstration site on power, reliability, etc., to develop engineering and economic models for geothermal ORC energy production. Start-up is scheduled for the summer of 2015.

See the video below for more information on Enhanced Geothermal Systems:

Geothermal heat pumps – or ground source heat pumps – are being utilized more and more in the residential, commercial and institutional sectors as an efficient, renewable alternative for heating and cooling.  The systems work by concentrating heat that occurs naturally, rather than producing heat and distributing it through structures.

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