The coal-fired power plant at the Missouri University of Science & Technology in the US, a vestige of the World War II era, is powering down as the university makes the transition to a geothermal energy system.
The plant, which was constructed in 1945, burned coal and wood chips to provide steam to much of campus for the past 69 years. The plant’s boilers were permanently shut down in late May and will be replaced by a geothermal energy system by the time students return for classes in the fall.
The new geothermal system consists of three separate plants that will distribute energy from the system to different parts of campus.
The heat recovery chillers of the three main campus plants have been operating since early April, and the system is providing heat to six buildings on campus. Since mid-April, the system has also provided the majority of the chilled water supply used for air conditioning on campus, said James Packard, director of facilities operations at Missouri S&T.
When completed, the geothermal system is expected to cut the university’s annual energy use by 50 percent and reduce its carbon footprint by 25,000 metric tons per year. That reduction amounts to roughly the equivalent of the greenhouse gas emissions of 4,600 passenger vehicles a year.
The geothermal system will also reduce Missouri S&T’s water usage by over 10 percent, or 10 million gallons per year, and eliminate a $34 million backlog in deferred maintenance costs for the aging power plant.
Funded through the sale of bonds by the university, the system is expected to save more than $1 million annually in energy and operational costs. That savings is expected to grow to $2.8 million a year. The university plans to repay the debt over 30 years through savings from the project.