The geothermal heat in the Williston Basin is an energy giant that can provide sustainable, renewable, and ecologically sound heat and power for the state of North Dakota (ND). We have known of this resource for decades, but development has been delayed for reasons which can be summed as economic competition from existing fossil fuel energy sources. With the “seismic” shock of the Covid-19 pandemic reverberating through the state’s carbon-centric economy, the timing is ideal for acting quickly to develop this energy resource.
Coincidentally, the State Energy Research Center (SERC) within the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC), has recently embarked on an analysis of ND’s energy future, and the availability and sustainability of resources for the state and the citizens of ND. Thus, the opportunity to examine the case for including geothermal energy in the strategy is at hand.
The option we examine here is Deep Direct Use (DDU) geothermal energy, in multiple applications and in conjunction with Advanced Energy Storage technology. DDU can reduce and replace demand on energy supplies in two applications: direct use heat and electrical power. While in grid energy terms each DDU unit is relatively small, hundreds of these units would have a significant impact and merit consideration in the energy strategy. Realizing that DDU development is not currently market-driven, we are framing the analysis for potential early adopters and energy policy advisors based on a reference design and using that design to examine the project economics. The purpose of this paper is to get an early indication of whether the early stage project economics indicate “stop now”, or “proceed with caution”.
Al Thibeault, Moones Alamooti, Nnaemeka Ngobidi, et al.. "Deep Direct Use Geothermal Energy in the North Dakota Clean Energy Transition Strategy" (2020). Geology and Geological Engineering Faculty Publications. 7.