Source:ThinkGeoEnergy – Geothermal Energy News
Original URL:https://www.thinkgeoenergy.com/ou-team-pitches-geothermal-greenhouse-design-for-osage-nation-in-oklahoma/
ThinkGeoEnergy – Geothermal Energy News

A group of students from the University of Oklahoma who recently won first place in the Technical Track of the 2023 Geothermal Collegiate Competition of US Department of Energy held a community event to present their proposed design for a geothermal greenhouse for the Osage Nation in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Team GeoTribe – consisting of Cesar Vivas, Nabe Konate, Jose Aramendiz, Gurban Hasanov, and Vagif Mammadzada – has designed a system of geothermal wells to heat and cool the Osage Nation’s 40,000-square-foot greenhouse, supporting efforts for native food sovereignty. As prize for the competition, the team was awarded $10,000 to fund a stakeholder engagement event to present the project to the community.

The greenhouse was established during the COVID-19 pandemic when there was a breakdown in the Tribe’s food system. This is particularly critical for ensuring produce year-round in an area that is recognized as a food desert.

“The Harvestland greenhouse was created to provide the Osage Nation access to fruits and vegetables, especially during the food shortage during the pandemic,” said Jose Aramendiz, a Ph.D. candidate in petroleum engineering at The University of Oklahoma. “Helping the greenhouse be self-sufficient could lead to cut energy costs, allowing redirection of funds to increase the benefits the greenhouse provides to the community.”

A geothermal resource assessment done by the team indicates that there is enough heat at 2000 feet below the surface to provide heating and cooling for the greenhouse and a nearby fish farm. Utilization of nearby inactive oil and gas wells was also considered, but these were found to be too old and damaged. However, subsurface information from these wells can still be useful for designing the geothermal system.

“In our experience, the stakeholders were a key part of our success,” said Konate, University of Oklahoma Ph.D. candidate and Team GeoTribe member. “Stakeholder engagement is important because it aligns people with common interest in working together to develop geothermal energy.” 

“The most important aspect was listening to the Tribal community’s past experiences, concerns, and advice,” said Aramendiz, also a Ph.D. candidate at The University of Oklahoma and a member of Team GeoTribe. “Learning from them and integrating their beliefs into our concept was key for our group to understand how we could collaborate respectfully.”

The next Geothermal Collegiate Competition will open for registration in August 2024. Sign up for the competition newsletter to keep updated.

Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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