Response to the Canadian Geographic issue on “The 13+ Things you Didn’t Know About Energy in Canada” Article:
CanGEA is Canada’s geothermal energy industry association. We would like to take this opportunity to respond to your article titled The 13+ Things you Didn’t Know About Energy in Canada.
We noticed that the definition of geothermal energy for power and heat production is confused with geothermal heat pumps. The article “fact” mentions that there have been 15,000 installations of geothermal heat pumps in the past year after it states that Canada is not currently using geothermal energy, which confuses the meaning of the two very different technologies. Geothermal heat pumps are used in residential and commercial buildings as an energy efficiency technology, whereas geothermal energy (or power) involves drilling hundreds or thousands of metres to the geothermal resource to extract heat for large-scale electricity production and direct heat uses. Our government and public must be aware of this distinction or we squander an opportunity to utilize our geothermal resources for clean power and heat production in the future.
(CanGEA research based upon Anderson et. al, 2013)
In the article, Mory Ghomshei mentions the high costs of heat drawn from deep holes in the ground for power production and direct use of geothermal heat. Though there are high initial costs of geothermal power projects, CanGEA’s research demonstrates that geothermal actually produces power at one of the least expensive rates of all power sources after its initial phase of development. The attached graph demonstrates that the levelized cost of geothermal power is competitive to coal, especially when you include health impact externalities.
*Note that the purple line in the figure represents the average pool price for the years 2008 through and including 2012.
**Further, note that for the purposes of the figure it is being assumed that the Canadian and US dollars are at parody.
Lastly, while there are zero MW of geothermal power in production in Canada today, deep geothermal resources are still being utilized for direct use heat projects. One needs to look no further than the popular hot springs of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories to see examples of the industry. Furthermore, a geopower demonstration project has run in British Columbia in the past, and another pilot project is in its planning phases for southern Saskatchewan (see www.deepcorp.ca).
CanGEA is actively trying to change the state of Canada’s stagnant geothermal industry. We are currently leading a project titled Geothermal Technology Roadmap and Implementation Plan (TRM&IP), which will outline the prospects of geothermal energy right across the country. In order to influence government policy and have geothermal energy on the same level playing field as conventional energy sources, CanGEA will be looking for public supporters for their upcoming campaign.
We would like to invite an opportunity to reframe the current state of geothermal energy in the next edition of Candian Geographic. Please let us know if you are willing to feature CanGEA and their upcoming projects in the future weeks.
Those interested in participating, sponsoring, or funding the upcoming campaign or projects should contact firstname.lastname@example.org and cite Technology Roadmap in the subject line.
Researcher, Canadian Geothermal Energy Association
(Research citation: Anderson, K., Weis, T., Thibault, B., Khan, F., Nanni, B., & Farber, N. (2013). A Costly Diagnosis: Subsidizing Coal Power with Albertan’s Health. 2013: The Pembina Foundation; The Asthma Society of Canada; The Candadian Association of Physicians for the Environment; The Lung Assciation, Alberta & Northwest Territories; and The Pembina Institute.