Borealis GeoPower, a Calgary-based geothermal development firm, hopes to change that. It’s developing of a 15 MW hydrothermal plant at Canoe Reach, near Valemount in southeastern B.C. With plans to bring the plant online and begin selling power to BC Hydro in 2018, it could become the first commercial geothermal power facility in Canada.
In addition to Canoe Reach, Borealis is pursuing another 15 MW geothermal power plant at Lakelse Lake near Terrace, B.C., in partnership with LL Geothermal.
These are not pilot projects, says Craig Dunn, chief geologist at Borealis. The company expects both to be profitable operations. Moreover, Borealis believes there are five to 10 more sites in B.C. that could quickly ramp up geothermal production.
“The resource opportunity in British Columbia is amazing,” Dunn says.
Geothermal energy is generated from naturally occurring heat found in rocks and liquid in reservoirs deep beneath the surface of the earth. Wells are drilled into these reservoirs to capture hot water and steam, which, when brought to the surface, drive turbines to generate electricity before being returned to the ground.
The resource has been used to generate electricity for more than 100 years on the small scale and for more than 50 years at the utility scale. Today, it is generating renewed interest as a relatively emissions-free source of renewable power.
Canada has a long way to go to catch up in the rankings. But that’s not a deterrent to geothermal advocates such as Dunn and Thompson. “This isn’t a new technology,” Thompson says. “It’s new to Canada because we haven’t tried it yet.”
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