Geothermal energy project will cut S&T’s CO2 emissions

A planned geothermal energy project to replace a 65-year-old power plant at Missouri University of Science and Technology is expected to cut the campus’s carbon dioxide emissions while reducing annual energy and operational costs by up to $2.8 million.

The Missouri S&T geothermal project was among several projects on the four University of Missouri campuses approved for debt financing by the UM Board of Curators Monday, Nov. 22. The university intends to issue the bonds for sale on Dec. 8.

For the Missouri S&T project, the curators approved $32.4 million in revenue bond financing. The project would involve the construction of a geothermal system to replace the heat created by the university’s power plant. The power plant, constructed in 1945, relies on coal and wood chips to provide steam-generated heat to most buildings on campus. Other buildings on campus are served by Rolla Municipal Utilities.

Construction of the geothermal system will take approximately five years to complete. Initially, the system is expected to save $1.4 million in energy and operational costs annually – a savings that is expected to grow to $2.8 million in future years.

The project also is expected to reduce Missouri S&T’s carbon dioxide emissions by more than 25,000 tons per year.

The debt financing is for 30 years.

In all, the curators approved $260 million in debt financing for projects on all four UM campuses.
Among the projects not approved at this time was financing for Missouri S&T’s request for $43.2 million to construct a new building for the campus’s chemical and biological engineering department and to upgrade and modernize Shrenk Hall for the chemistry and biological sciences programs. Currently, Shrenk houses all three programs – chemical and biological engineering, chemistry, and biological sciences – but has been a campus priority for improvements in recent years. Missouri S&T has committed to raise nearly $8 million in private funds for that project, which will be given future consideration by the board.


  1. John P. Hogan says:

    Drill Baby! Drill!

  2. Benjamin P. Haring says:

    I agree with Dr. Hogan. Drill away! Plus, there would be no more towering smoke stacks.

  3. Paul Worsey says:

    So we are going to use electricity from Missouri coal fired generation plants to run geothermal heat pumps? way to go! Out of sight out of mind.

  4. Paul, done well geothermal heat pumps are vastly more efficient than traditional generation, so whatever the energy input for this system it is likely to be at least 50 percent less than the coal/wood-chip option.

  5. Matthew Coy says:

    smoke stacks as in the steam towers? for an engineering school, there is not much education on how things are constructed.

  6. Milton J Murry PE says:

    You will be very pleased with the perfomance of this system. Couple it with a water source heat pump system with east, west, north, south and core zoning and you will have a very comfortable HVAC system for occupants. Remember computer server rooms give off lots of heat and must be constantly cool. If buildings are 24 hour a day occupied be sure enough pipe is in the ground.
    I did a City Hall at Park Hills Missouri using mine water and the operating costs were less than $1.00 per year per sq. foot.
    The electricity could come from solar, wind or nuclear energy.
    Next Project. Electric cars and charging infrastructure to support.

  7. Jeff Schramm says:

    I always liked the idea that a substantial portion of our heat came from burning wood. This historian appreciates that even at a technological university like S&T, the oldest fuels are still used.

  8. Paul Worsey says:

    Well I actually heat my house with a heat pump that uses wells for heat transfer and seems to be very economical although it cost a pretty penny when I built my house 5 years ago. But I hate the thought of the cost of repair when it ups and dies on me. That’s going to be expensive! It’s a good job I am one of the few people fortunately wealthy and loud mouthed to put my money where my mouth is, rather than a poor person that can’t afford the extravagant investment. However, I have great pride in that it is powered by nearly 100% coal and uranium! The majority of what we need to live comes from the ground.
    Hopefully the crazies don’t start claiming that all these heat pumps are chilling mother earth and the planet is going to turn into a deep freeze. 🙂

  9. I think geothermal energy is a great idea! However, I was wondering what would happen with the old power plant. Will it be retrofitted to house the new technology??