An Alternative Energy Series, Geothermal in the Twin Tiers

WETM Special Reports

ITHACA, N.Y. (WETM)- Forms of renewable energy is one of the fastest growing energy sources, accounting for around two-thirds of the increase in global power. Geothermal here in New York is quickly becoming a new way to produce clean energy.

Geothermal energy is when the earth’s heat is used to produce clean energy that can then be used to heat or cool homes. Dandelion, is an independent company who’s mission is to provide affordable and accessible geothermal heating to residents in New York and across the Northeast.

“The basic idea is that below the frost line, about five feet below the ground. The earths temperature is constant, to a constant fifty-five degrees,” said Ilyas Frenkel, Head of Marketing at Dandelion. “So we take that constant temperature, and use that constant temperature to heat your home in the winter and then also cool your home in the summer.”

These heating systems create one-fifth the amount of carbon emissions than propane, oil or gas systems would. Dandelion is currently the largest installer of these systems not only here in New York but across the U.S.

“What I would recommend to folks is to do this sooner, cause there is really generous incentives from the government in place from utilities, so get this done sooner,” said Frenkel.

One local university is currently doing research on a proposed project to bring geothermal heating and cooling to their campus.

“Cornell is researching at this point with the idea that we would want to give this a try, an approach to heating our campus in a sustainable way, doing something called deep direct use,” said Rick Burgess, Vice President of Facilities and Campus Services at Cornell University.

The University already has a hydroelectric plant that provides clean energy for their electric on campus. By being able to implement this project it would take the campus one step closer to running on clean energy.

Now, unlike a residential system, Cornell would drill two wells that are three to four miles deep into the earth. At this depth temperatures will be around two-hundred degrees.

“The benefit of this is that it is a sustainable resource. The heat in the core of the Earth is there, we don’t know exactly the draw down rate. That is something that we would need to explore, if we were to put in a well pair how long would you be able to draw heat from that before you would need to shift to another one,” Burgess said.

More research is planned for this project before any type of construction can begin. Burgess did say that if they are able to accomplish this type of project it could open similar opportunities across the U.S.

“If we could discover something new that could work here at Cornell, then that can be scaled to other parts of the state and other parts the region where you have similar geologic type formations. So that really would be cool,” Burgess said.

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