Canada’s sitting on “massive” geothermal resources, according to news reports, more than 1 million times its current electricity consumption. “As few as 100 projects could meet Canada’s energy needs,” notes the Geological Survey of Canada research team whose 322-page report will be presented at a geothermal industry conference in Toronto Thursday, Sept. 15.
Better yet, the 12-scientist team found that geothermal heat reservoirs found across “large swaths of British Columbia, Alberta, the Yukon and Northwest Territories” lie close to the surface, making them easier to reach and tap into.
The research team estimates that there are at least 5 gigawatts (GW) of geothermal power available in British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon alone. British Columbia has so much that it could produce as much electricity as the controversial $7.9-billion, 1,100 megawatt Site C hydroelectric dam the provincial government has proposed, according to the research team’s findings.
While the geothermal resources in these areas hold the greatest potential to be developed commercially, such opportunities exist across the country, the researchers say.
In contrast to fossil fuel electrical power plants, geothermal power plants produce no greenhouse gas emissions, and geothermal is a renewable resource. It’s cost-effective, and in contrast to renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar that produce electricity on an intermittent basis, it provides a steady stream of electricity, or baseload power.
These resources are an “assured source of clean, reliable energy,” and Canada should be testing advanced geothermal energy systems in order to develop them, one research team member told The Montreal Gazette’s Margaret Munro.
“Of anywhere in the world, Canada has the technology and knowledge to move this forward,” research team leader Stephen Grasby said, referring to Canadian companies’ expertise in energy exploration, production and mining.
It’s almost laughable if it wasn’t so startling, but Canada has no, zero, geothermal power plants up and running. The report may be both a long-awaited boon for the nation’s geothermal industry, and a wake-up call to the Canadian government.
I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.