“Massachusetts is founding the utility of the future, which is both exciting and a great responsibility. Through LeGUp, HEET is committed to ensuring that we have the science, data, and transparency we need to grow network geothermal equitably, at the scale and speed required to address the climate crisis—while also improving public health, supporting our economy, and creating good jobs.”
— HEET Co-Executive Director Zeyneb Magavi
HEET formed the Learning from the Ground Up (LeGUp) research team to learn as much as we can from the first utility geothermal networks in the country. The LeGUp research supplements the utilities’ own project measurements and verifications, providing additional data, research, and science beyond what is covered by standard utility and regulatory procedure.
The project is funded by a $5 million grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, thanks to a generous allocation for this purpose by the Massachusetts Legislature.
The LeGUp team will develop an open-source digital twin, or model, of the technology based on data collected at multiple sites. This model will allow optimization of design and operations for both the first projects and for the industry as it grows. The model and the aggregated data will also allow a series of scaling impact studies that include technical potential and economic, health, equity, and environmental impacts.
The team will share key learnings, best practices, and determine a standard normalized dataset for the cross-comparison of projects. This dataset will be published in an open data bank to help accelerate the gas-to-geo transition.
“The lessons learned from this project will help Massachusetts and states across the country to implement geothermal networks in many neighborhoods and buildings. With more than 100 million buildings in the US, the potential impacts of this project on climate change could be significant.”
— Xiaobing Liu, Senior Researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Technical Advisor to LeGUp.
General research areas and activities
- Design, build and launch an open-source databank for geothermal network projects
- Design, build and refine a digital twin that will help optimize system design and operations
- Assess cost drivers and economic barriers to adoption
- Determine density and locational thresholds for deployment, allowing for a data-based statewide potential study.
- Data-driven recommendations for scaling geothermal networks nationally
- Design and launch a feasibility study grant program to help communities move geothermal network projects forward
- Recommendations for prioritizing benefits to low-income and environmental justice communities.
- Evaluation of the impacts of the gas-to-geo transition on equity, human health, greenhouse gas emissions, and the environment.
LeGUp research team participants
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)
- University of California Berkeley
- Boston University
- Buro Happold Engineering
- Harvey Michaels of Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Dr. Marcos Luna of Salem State University
In collaboration with:
- National Grid Gas
- Eversource Gas