Geoscience BC to explore geothermal energy opportunities for BC communities
September 17, 2015
Direct-use geothermal energy is a clean and renewable source of power, particularly for remote communities, but its potential applications in Canada are still poorly understood by scientists and the communities who stand to benefit most.
Geoscience BC are launching a project to identify and evaluate direct-use geothermal energy opportunities for BC communities, providing them with data to potentially lower greenhouse gas emissions and drive economic development forward.
"This project is the first step toward giving BC communities and businesses an understanding of what geothermal resources are available and how they may use them," says Dr. Catherine Hickson, Principal of Tuya Terra Geo Corp and leader of the six-month project.
Geothermal energy uses heat produced in the earth's crust to generate electricity (indirect-use) or to heat commercial or residential spaces (direct-use). Although BC has significant potential for geothermal resources, direct-use geothermal energy is currently only used for therapeutic purposes at hot springs.
"Direct-use geothermal energy is used in other parts of the world for space heating, agricultural, industrial, commercial, snow clearing and recreational purposes," explains geothermal geologist and direct-use expert, Mr. Gerald W. Huttrer, President of Geothermal Management Company, Inc. and science co-leader for the project.
Previous studies of direct-use geothermal energy in BC have focused on the end use application or have been specific to locations or projects. Communities and local governments may not have access to the expert knowledge required to oversee a geothermal exploration program, or the cost of exploration may be a major barrier to wider adoption of direct-use geothermal energy.
To help meet these needs, our project will compile existing, publicly available geoscience data and survey communities to identify their needs, development choices and economic development goals, paving the way for future community engagement and development of identified resources.
The result will be a Geothermal Direct-Use Road Map designed for communities, containing guidelines for surface exploration, land acquisition and permitting, drilling and testing wells, leading to design and construction of facilities to benefit all.
This project is jointly funded by Geoscience BC and the BC government's ICE Fund. The ICE Fund is a Special Account, funded through a levy on certain energy sales, designed to support the Province's energy, economic, environmental and greenhouse gas reduction priorities, and to advance B.C.'s clean energy sector.