As Michigan’s Upper Peninsula grapples with a looming electricity crisis, the region’s copper-mining past could play a role in its energy future.
“Mineshaft geothermal” is gaining attention here as researchers investigate the energy potential stored hundreds of feet below the ground. The water in these abandoned and flooded mines, which expand throughout the U.P., is just now starting to be used to heat and cool buildings.
“Wherever anyone has a mineshaft and access to it, the potential is there,” said Jay Meldrum, director of the Keweenaw Research Center at Michigan Technological University in Houghton. Meldrum and his team are investigating the potential of more than 30 mineshafts in the historic village of Calumet, population around 700.