EVALUATING THE IMPACTS OF A CLOSED-LOOP GROUNDSOURCE GEOTHERMAL SYSTEM AT BALL STATE UNIVERSITY ON SUBSTRATE AND GROUNDWATER TEMPERATURES IN PHASE 1
Despite the rise in community-scale ground-source geothermal energy systems, there is little empirical information on their effects upon the groundwater environment or the effects of the groundwater flow environment on the geothermal field. Previous studies have triggered concern over the impact of large-scale geothermal systems where there were documented increases in groundwater temperatures. Since BSU initiated Phase 1 in late November 2011 with cold-water circulation (adding heat to the ground), data indicate that the ground temperature has increased over 10 degrees Celsius in the center of the South Field, with temperatures rising in other surrounding monitoring wells depending on their distance from the edge of the geothermal boreholes. Maintaining a temperature differential between the fluid inside the exchange loops and the geologic substrate and/or groundwater outside of the loops is crucial to the efficiency of the systems, which are typically designed so that temperatures will not increase or decrease considerably over the years. The temperature increases are distinctively different in the upper highly hydraulically conductive aquifers and the lower poorly conductive formations. The overall ground-source geothermal system will continue to influence and be influenced by the stratigraphy and hydrogeologic transmissivity.