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Title: District Energy Corporation SW 40th Street Thermal Energy Plant

The overall deliverable from the project is the design, construction and commissioning of a detention facility heating and cooling system that minimizes ownership costs and maximizes efficiency (and therefore minimizes environmental impact). The primary deliverables were the proof of concept for the application of geothermal systems for an institutional facility and the ongoing, quarterly system operating data downloads to the Department of Energy . The primary advantage of geothermal based heat pump systems is the higher efficiency of the system compared to a conventional chiller, boiler, cooling tower based system. The higher efficiency results in a smaller environmental foot print and lower energy costs for the detention facility owner, Lancaster County. The higher efficiency for building cooling is primarily due to a more constant compressor condensing temperature with the geothermal well field acting as a thermal “sink” (in place of the conventional system’s cooling tower). In the heating mode, Ground Couple Heat Pump (GCHP) systems benefits from the advantage of a heat pump Coefficient of Performance (COP) of approximately 3.6, significantly better than a conventional gas boiler. The geothermal well field acting as a thermal “source” allows the heat pumps to operate efficiently in the heating mode regardless of ambientmore » temperatures. The well field is partially located in a wetland with a high water table so, over time, the project will be able to identify the thermal loading characteristics of a well field located in a high water table location. The project demonstrated how a large geothermal well field can be installed in a wetland area in an economical and environmentally sound manner. Finally, the SW 40th Street Thermal Energy Plant project demonstrates the benefits of providing domestic hot water energy, as well as space heating, to help balance well filed thermal loading in a cooling dominated application. During the period of August 2012 thru March 2014, with the detention facility occupied for the final seven months, the well field supply water temperatures to the heat pumps dropped to a minimum of 39°F and reached a maximum temperature of 68 °F while providing 15,819 MMBtu of cooling energy and 27,467 MMBtu of heating energy. During this period the peak recorded system cooling load was 610 tons and the peak heating load was 8.4 MMBtu. The DEC is currently evaluating the most beneficial electric rate for plant operations. Total project cost of $16.9 million was approximately $3.2 million less than the estimate provided in the grant application. The reduction in project costs were primarily due to favorable construction material prices as well as strong competition in the local construction contractor market. The DEC plant reached the substantial completion milestone in December 2011 and began providing thermal service to the detention facility in January 2012 when the building’s HVAC system was ready to accept heating service. The plant reached commercial operating status on August 1, 2012. However, due to construction delays, the detention facility was not occupied until September of 2013. The detention facility construction delays also impacted the installation and commissioning of the project’s dedicated domestic hot water heat pump. Final coordination with the detention facility’s building management system vendor to establish network links for the exchange of date is currently being completed. This will allow the development of control sequences for the optimal operation of the domestic hot water system.« less
  1. District Energy Corporation, Lincoln, NE (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
District Energy Corporation, Lincoln, NE (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE); USDOE Energy Information Administration (EIA)
Country of Publication:
United States
15 GEOTHERMAL ENERGY geothermal; well field; heat pumps