CanGEA

If Saskatchewan Can Build a Geothermal Power Plant, Why Can’t B.C.?

Geothermal Energy

While news of Saskatchewan’s plan for a small geothermal power plant was met with excitement by renewable energy advocates,  experts say British Columbia is far better situated to capitalize on the technology yet has failed to do so.

It should be a little bit of a shock that a less good resource is being developed in Saskatchewan over a world-class resource in B.C.,” said Alison Thompson, chair and co-founder of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA).

B.C. is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a geothermal hot zone. Maps produced by CanGEA found B.C. has enough geothermal potential to power the entire province.

There are geothermal projects all up the coast but they stop at the border. There’s nothing in B.C.,” Thompson said.

This is clearly not technical, not economic. This is policy driven.”

Saskatchewan Did What?! Province OKs Canada's First Geothermal Power Plant

SaskPower DEEP geothermal

Saskatchewan has developed a bit of a negative reputation on the environmental front lately.  

Guess that’s what happens when a premier threatens to sue the federal government over mandated carbon pricing and instead promotes the extremely expensive technology of carbon capture and storage.

That’s why it came as quite a surprise when provincial electricity utility SaskPower announced in mid-May that it had signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) — a contract for guaranteed sales at a fixed price — with geothermal company Deep Earth Energy Production.

The project in Williston Basin is an extremely small one: at five megawatts (MW), it will represent only 0.1 per cent of the province’s current electricity capacity. But it will be the first geothermal power project in Canada and experts say that it’s a huge step forward for geothermal, not only for Saskatchewan but the entire country.

Geothermal Makes Breakthrough in Federal Budget … Now What?

geothermal energy iceland

For more than a decade, advocates of geothermal energy have pushed for the same kind of treatment other energy producers receive from the federal government — with little progress.

But with the release of the federal budget on March 22, that changed.

The budget included the expansion of financial mechanisms to geothermal, which will allow these emerging renewable energy operators to write off more expenses. The change is significant for geothermal energy, which requires higher upfront investments than wind or solar.

Tweet: “This is a milestone for us. We’re legitimate. We’re there.” http://bit.ly/2orJlr4 @Alison_Energy @CanGEA #cdnpoli #geothermal #renewablesThis is a milestone for us,” said Alison Thompson, chair and co-founder of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA). “We’re legitimate. We’re there.”

Geothermal Could Put Thousands from Alberta’s Oil and Gas Sector Back to Work

Abandoned oil and gas wells in Alberta are on the rise — but where many see a growing liability, Alberta’s fledgling geothermal industry sees massive opportunity.
 
“We’ve got these old wells that we know are hot and we’re going to fill them with cement and walk away,” says Tim Davies, CEO of geothermal company Turkana. “It’s just stupid.”
 
There’s currently no permitting framework for geothermal in Alberta, leaving the renewable energy out of play.
 
“I own the well, I own the land and I own the oil. But I can’t own the heat,” Davies said. “There’s just no mechanism for that in place.”
 
“The oil business has drilled 400,000 wells in Alberta alone,” Alison Thompson, president of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association, told DeSmog Canada. “They’ve already found all the hot water the province has.”

Canada Has Enormous Geothermal Potential. Why Aren’t We Using it?

Like a stand of eager horses chomping at the bit, Canada’s young geothermal industry is waiting impatiently at the starting line, ready for the race to begin.
 
But there’s no starting pistol in sight. At least, not yet.
 
Getting geothermal projects up and running in Canada “has been harder than it needs to be,” according to Alison Thompson, founder and president of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CANGea).
 
Thompson, along with a group of delegates from Canada’s geothermal industry, is currently in Reykjavik at the Iceland Geothermal Conference where delegates, experts and scientists from around the world are swapping stories from the geothermal trenches.
 
Despite having the second largest delegation at the conference after Iceland, Canada has little to show or tell.
 
“Canada has an incredibly high quality resource and we can’t even get out of the starting gate,” Thompson told DeSmog Canada.

‘Unprecedented’ Comments from Chair of Site C Dam Panel Raised in B.C. Question Period

Site C dam

Revelations from DeSmog Canada’s exclusive sit-down interview with Harry Swain, the chair of the panel that reviewed the $8.8 billion Site C dam, were raised during question period in the B.C. legislature on Thursday.

Andrew Weaver, Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA and Deputy Leader of the B.C. Green Party, asked the government about the economics of the Site C dam project in light of Swain’s unprecedented interview.

Swain, a former Deputy Minister of Industry Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, is thought to be the first review panel member in Canadian history to speak out about a project in this manner. His comments to DeSmog Canada prompted follow-up by the Globe and Mail, CBC, CKNW and CFAX.

Mr. Swain was very clear that the government was rushed in approving Site C, and British Columbians will pay for their haste,” Weaver said during question period. “As Mr. Swain said: ‘Wisdom would have been waiting for two, three, four years to see whether the projections they’ — that’s BC Hydro — ‘were making had any basis in fact.’ That’s not exactly a glowing endorsement for the fiscal underpinning of Site C.”

‘Dereliction of Duty’: Chair of Site C Panel on B.C.’s Failure to Investigate Alternatives to Mega Dam

Harry Swain, chair of Site C panel

Part 1 of DeSmog Canada’s exclusive sit-down interview with Harry Swain, the man who chaired the panel tasked with reviewing BC Hydro’s Site C dam, sparked a firestorm of activity on Tuesday.

Energy Minister Bill Bennett responded to Swain’s critique in the Globe and Mail, the B.C. NDP issued a statement on Swain’s comments and an environmental law expert called the statements “unprecedented.”

Martin Olszynski, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary, said Swain’s comments are extremely rare.  

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that a panel member has spoken about a previous report in this manner,” Olszynski, an expert in environmental assessment, said. “To my knowledge, it’s unprecedented.”

Judicial Review of Site C Dam Approval May Delay Project Start

The Peace Valley Landowner Association is celebrating a small victory following a Federal Court decision that four applications for judicial reviews of the massive Site C dam, planned for the Peace River, will be heard this summer.

The Association and representatives of B.C. and Alberta Treaty 8 First Nations appeared before Federal Court last week to oppose a BC Hydro motion to have the cases heard in May because of the financial implications if the Site C construction schedule was delayed. BC Hydro wants to start work on the $8.8-billion project in June.

The Landowner Association and First Nations argued that, if the hearings were fast-tracked, there would be insufficient time to prepare legal arguments and cross-examination plans.

The court ruled that the applications for judicial review – brought by the PVLA, Mikisew Cree, Athabasca Chipewyan, Prophet River, Doig River, West Moberly and McLeod Lake First Nations – will be set for this summer, depending on court availability, and will be heard consecutively by one judge. That could stretch the hearings into late summer.

Ken Boon, PVLA president, said the decision shows the court is not going to rush or let BC Hydro set the agenda.

Top 10 Climate and Energy Stories of 2014

Suncor tailings pond

With 2014 drawing to a close, DeSmog Canada decided to take stock of its most popular stories of the year.

Readers came in droves for our in-depth reporting on climate change, oilsands and oil pipelines, but they also loved articles about potential solutions to our climate change woes. Indeed, two of our Top 10 posts are on Canada’s geothermal potential.

Without further ado, here are DeSmog Canada’s Top 10 articles of 2014. Thanks for reading!

1. Bill 4 Passes: B.C. Parks Now Officially Open…To Pipelines and Drilling. More than 10,000 citizens wrote letters and signed petitions to try to stop the B.C. government from passing Bill 4, which allows for industry (and others) to carry out “research” in provincial parks related to pipelines, transmission lines, roads and other industrial activities that might require park land.

Geothermal Offers Cheaper, Cleaner Alternative to Site C Dam: New Report

Alison Thompson

Geothermal energy offers a low-cost, clean and viable alternative to the $8 billion Site C dam proposed for the Peace River, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA)

The report, Geothermal Energy: The Renewable and Cost Effective Alternative to Site C, estimates that geothermal power would ring in at about $73 per megawatt-hour (MWh). BC Hydro has estimated the cost of Site C at $83 per MWh. The report also says the proposed geothermal plants could be built for approximately $3.3 billion, less than half the cost of the Site C dam.

Geothermal can be built as you need it, where you need it, and the capital costs are much lower,” CanGEA Chair Alison Thompson told a press conference in Victoria.

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