Alison Thompson

Geothermal Would Create 15 Times More Permanent Jobs Than Site C, Panel Told As BCUC Hearings Draw to Close

geothermal National Renewable Energy Lab

Opportunities provided by 21st century renewables, such as geothermal, wind and solar, have either been ignored or the costs over-inflated in BC Hydro documents justifying construction of the Site C dam, the B.C. Utilities Commission Site C Panel was told by presenters during two days of technical briefings.

Speaker after speaker pinpointed holes and inaccuracies in BC Hydro’s math, claiming the bottom line was skewed in favour of building the $8.8-billion dollar dam on the Peace River.

Geothermal power projects are thriving in Oregon and Idaho and the geology does not instantly change at the B.C. border, said Alison Thompson, chair of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA), pointing to the number of hot springs and drilled natural gas wells in the province, which indicate the presence of geothermal resources.

So, how much has BC Hydro spent in the last 15 years in exploratory drilling for geothermal resources?” she asked.

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.

Meet The Forestry Town Striving to Become Canada’s First Geothermal Village

(Valemount, B.C.) — Tweet: Town of #Valemount wants to reinvent itself as a #renewable energy leader http://bit.ly/2b4X9iG #geothermal #bcpoliA forestry town is working to re-invent itself as a renewable energy leader with a project that promises community revitalization from the ground up.  

The mountain village of Valemount, British Columbia, located along the Rocky Mountain trench is eyeing the nearby Canoe Reach hot springs — one of the hottest surface hot springs in Canada — as a source of geothermal heat and renewable electricity generation.

Valemount used to be a typical northern forest town,” Silvio Gislimberti, head of the Valemount Geothermal Association, told DeSmog Canada. “But now we would like to create a geothermal industrial park.”

An old mill that shut down in 2007 provides a near perfect location for Borealis Geopower, the company working with the community to make something of the region’s geothermal potential.

Craig Dunn, chief geologist with Borealis Geopower, said Valemount is one of the best-known hot spots for geothermal development in all of Canada.

The resource opportunity is pretty incredible all the way down the Rocky Mountain trench, including opportunities like Radium and Fairmont, which are all a part of the system.”

Valemount has a “competitive advantage” according to Gislimberti.

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.”

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.

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.

New Maps Reveal B.C. Has Enough Geothermal Potential to Power Entire Province

Blue Lagoon Geothermal Power Plant

At a time when B.C.’s politicians are considering flooding the Peace Valley for the Site C hydroelectric dam, a new project by the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association says the province could be sitting on a figurative gold mine of power with low environmental impact.

The project used publicly available data to produce a database of maps and supporting information that show all the areas in B.C. that have the potential to produce geothermal energy. The project reports that, using existing technology, the province could produce between 5,500 and 6,600 mega watts of power — enough to power the whole province.
 
Ironically, the information CanGEA used comes mainly from the oil and gas industry, which is required by law to report on things like well depth and temperature.
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