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Oregon College Increases Geothermal Energy

Linda Hardesty

The Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) Klamath Falls campus will utilize 1.5 MW of newly installed geothermal capacity combined with a 2 MW solar array to generate most of its electrical power from renewable sources.

The school’s Geo-Heat Center has been tapping its geothermal resources to heat campus buildings for nearly fifty years. Beginning in 2008, the Energy Department helped fund further development of the geothermal resources beneath the campus and supported the purchase of an initial 280 kW geothermal power system. By 2010, the small binary unit was producing power for the school’s facilities, and the groundwork was laid to utilize additional geothermal energy through an Energy Department investment of $3.5 million, with a matching cost-share by the university.

An additional $1 million investment through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act developed a technology to generate electricity from low-temperature geothermal resources at an estimated 20 percent cost savings over conventional binary systems. Johnson Controls provided $4 million in cost-share to demonstrate this novel, nearly emission-free technology at Klamath Falls, leveraging the previously funded work on the OIT campus.



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