$700,000 Investment in Community Geothermal Planning

Ecolibrium3, in partnership with the City of Duluth and Ever-Green Energy, is the recipient of a $700,000 award from the US Department of Energy’s Community Geothermal Heating and Cooling Design and Deployment Initiative, forming the LNPK 156 Geothermal Coalition. This means that we have the opportunity to design and deploy a geothermal district heating system for our community.

The proposed geothermal heating system will repurpose waste heat from the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) and use it to heat buildings adjacent to West Superior Street. These funds will also be used to support geothermal workforce development to aid the implementation of this initiative. Additionally, there are a number of potential add-ons that would expand the reach of the proposed base geothermal system. Add-ons may include:

  1. Connecting the LNPK 156 system to the City of Duluth’s downtown heating system to support the Central Business District and local hospitals.
  2. Including public housing and the LNPK community resilience hub. 
  3. Supporting snowmelt at district transit stops.
  4. Expanding the system to support additional residential areas.

Depending on the outcome of our planning, there is an opportunity to receive additional funding from the Department of Energy for phase two, building the new geothermal energy system. Phase two would happen in tandem with the Superior Street redesign, saving approximately 40% of the cost. 

This initiative has the potential to completely redefine Duluth’s carbon footprint by decreasing the environmental impact of our waste and improving our renewable energy portfolio. Effluent, or liquid waste, is currently discharged into Lake Superior; which can disrupt the environment, as it is warmer than the lake water. We will lessen the environmental impact of our waste by repurposing it for more sustainable use, as we are taking an environmental burden and turning it into a positive resource for the community. Additionally, we are supporting sustainable development in the Lincoln Park community, a neighborhood experiencing high energy burdens, low life expectancy, and decreased air quality. Lastly, if deployed this geothermal system will be the first of its kind in the United States. This is a great opportunity for Ecolibrium3 and the City of Duluth to be a national model for how energy that exists in a community can be applied in a smart way to create a positive impact on the community. Ecolibrium3 is excited to begin working with our partners to plan the future of energy in Duluth.

In the Media: 

City of Duluth Press Release: City of Duluth one of 11 US communities chosen by US Department of Energy to design geothermal heating district

Duluth receives geothermal technologies award – WDIO

Duluth awarded $700,000 grant to study using wastewater to heat buildings – Star Tribune

Award allows Duluth to explore wastewater as possible heat source – Duluth News Tribune

‘Big, bold idea’: Duluth hopes to heat homes with wastewater energy – MPR News

Duluth Receives Grant to Design Geothermal Heating District in Lincoln Park Neighborhood – Fox 21

To spur geothermal heating and cooling, DOE funds 11 community-scale system design projects – Smart Cities Dive

Duluth awarded $700,000 grant to study using wastewater to heat buildings – District Energy

The Biden administration eyes a relatively untapped climate solution to revolutionize how homes are heated and cooled – CNN

Duluth wins funds to design district geothermal wastewater system – CERTS