Massachusetts may switch to an underground thermal network.
According to Canary Media, Massachusetts’ major gas utilities, facing the eventual demise of fossil fuels under the state’s decarbonization mandate, are contemplating a new business model: replacing neighborhood gas pipeline networks with pipes that capture and share thermal energy underground.
Over the next year, utilities Eversource, National Grid and Columbia Gas plan to break ground on separate pilot projects testing the viability of making such ?“geo-grids” or ?“micro geo-districts” into in-the-ground realities. If they succeed, the model could be extended to a much broader set of the utilities’ customers — and potentially offer gas utilities in other regions a path toward a carbon-free future.
Nikki Bruno, Eversource’s director of clean technologies, said the utility has hopes to expand well beyond its $10.2 million, three-year pilot project in a lower-income neighborhood in the city of Framingham, Massachusetts.
For that to happen, however, ?“we would have to show an environmental benefit, customer affordability, and technology performance,” she said.