Geothermal in Alberta

2009-01-26

in Canada, Economics, Politics, The environment

Mica Prazak with Tristan's Rollei

In Canada, at least, Alberta is synonymous with fossil fuel production. As such, it is nice to see that the Pembina Institute has produced a report (PDF) looking into possibilities for sustainable energy production in the province. The Clean Break blog has a summary.

In particular, the report discusses ways in which geothermal power could be an ideal match to the skills and research already present in the province. They already know how to drill deep holes into rock. Further, they are investigating new techniques in the context of carbon capture and storage. Given the province’s excessively high per-capita emissions, and ongoing dependence on coal for electricity, it would be especially appropriate to see some aggressive renewable deployment there. Doing so would also generate technologies and experience that Canadian firms could export to others: a good example of leveraging existing skills to move from a fossil-fuel backed economy towards a truly renewable one.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Magictofu January 26, 2009 at 3:54 pm

There are two types of geothermal energy: those using the heat from geothermal formations (hot springs etc.) and those using the relatively stable nature of rock temperature at a certain depth.

In the first case, we can produce energy but the possibilities are site specific (need for specific geologic features). In the second case, we can use the thermal mass of the earth beneath us to minimize our energy needs (use of ground source heat pump) and it can be used almost everywhere.

The drilling capacity in Alberta joined with the growing needs for housing in the province means that there is a also a great potential for the development of residential geothermal systems.

Milan January 26, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Here is some more on so called ‘hot rocks’ geothermal, where artificial sites are created in areas not naturally amenable to the technology:

Google and geothermal in Canada
August 25, 2008

Artificial geothermal sites
July 3, 2008

On geothermal heat pumps:

Rockin’ out
Shipments of geothermal heat pumps grew 33 percent in 2006
Posted by Joseph Romm (Guest Contributor) at 3:34 PM on 08 Aug 2008

Milan January 26, 2009 at 4:37 pm

There is also an elegant simplicity to geothermal.

Compare these options:

1) Drill a hole, pump water into it, wait for water to turn to steam, use steam to drive turbines and run generators.

2) Dig up coal, pulverize and burn it, separate carbon dioxide from the flue gas, liquefy the CO2, transport the CO2 to a hole in the ground, pump it into a salt dome or saline aquifer, cap it and hope it doesn’t leak.

Milan January 26, 2009 at 4:56 pm

There is also this:

Australia’s geothermal potential
January 30, 2008

Anon January 26, 2009 at 10:52 pm

Don’t you know? Holes that hydrocarbons don’t flow out from are for pinko sissy-boys!

. March 16, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Intelligent use of the Earth’s heat
Published: Friday, February 27, 2009

Geothermal energy is increasingly contributing to the power supply world wide. Iceland is world-leader in expanding development of geothermal utilization: in recent years the annual power supply here doubled to more than 500 MW alone in the supply of electricity. And also in Germany, a dynamic development is to be seen: over 100 MW of heat are currently being provided through geothermal energy. Alone in the region of Travale, in the pioneering country Italy, a team of european scientists have localizied geothermal reservoirs, holding a potential comparable to the effectiveness of 1.000 wind power plants. This is one of the results presented at the international final conference of the project „I-GET” (Integrated Geophysical Exploration Technologies for deep fractured geothermal systems) in Potsdam. The aim of this European Union project, in which seven european nations participated, was the development of cutting-edge geophysical methods with which potential geothermal reservoirs can be safely explored and directly tapped.

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