A coal-fired, World War II-era power plant that has provided energy to much of the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus for nearly seven decades is powering down as the university makes the transition to a geothermal energy system, according to the school’s website.
The power plant, which was constructed in 1945, burned coal and wood chips to provide steam to much of the campus for the past 69 years. The plant’s boilers were permanently shut down in May, and by the fall of 2014, Missouri S&T’s geothermal energy system will be fully in service. It will provide heating and cooling to 17 buildings on campus and chilled water to the majority of campus buildings.
The geothermal system consists of four separate plants that will distribute energy from the system to different parts of campus.
When completed, the geothermal system is expected to cut the university’s annual energy use by 50 percent. The 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.
The geothermal project was approved by the University of Missouri System Board of Curators in 2010. 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.