Friday, November 28, 2014

Geothermal Energy within British Columbia, a Potential Gold Mine for BC!

On Tuesday, November 25, 2014 CanGEA released the full copy of their Geothermal Report to the public. The title of the report is Geothermal: The Renewable and Cost Effective Alternative to Site CNew information and analysis contained in the CanGEA Report demonstrates that geothermal energy is a low cost, clean, viable alternative to the proposed $8 Billion Site C Dam project (“Site C”).

I have been a strong proponent of Geothermal energy since working with the United States Department of Energy on a Geothermal project alongside colleagues from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and others.  During the 2013 BC Provincial election, I campaigned on a platform of using Geothermal to kickstart a strong renewable energy industry in BC, creating thousands of new permanent high tech jobs and at the same time moving BC into the top quadrant for being a sustainable region with advanced energy policies and reversing the trend of a high carbon future.  I believe that actions like this, not carbon taxes, are going to be the most effective way to combat environmental pollution and moving away from fossil fuels.

Geothermal has the potential to provide firm energy at a lower cost than Site C in a manner that benefits ratepayers, taxpayers, the economy and the environment. It can provide for our regional energy needs a thousand times over.  Unlike solar and wind, Geothermal is not intermittent.  It works 24/7, day and night, all four seasons of the year to provide energy at a reasonable cost while respecting our planet.   Geothermal has a far lower carbon footprint than Site C and would provide far more jobs.  Our energy production would be diverse as well. If some radical shift in climate patterns created a situation where the rivers lowered their flow volumes, Site C would represent a catastrophic failure.  Smaller, regionally distributed Geothermal projects would meet our needs without putting al our energy eggs on one basket.

The CanGEA report identifies 10 key advantages that Geothermal has over Site C:
  1. Geothermal power has a lower Unit Electricity Cost (UEC) and capital cost.
  2. Geothermal heat is a valuable by-product.
  3. More permanent jobs are generated by geothermal operations than other alternatives.
  4. Costly BC Hydro system transmission upgrades are avoided or minimized.
  5. The power grid is strengthened through ancillary services, including geothermal energy’s unique base load and the capacity to dispatch energy.
  6. Geothermal fluids create strategically significant mineral and rare earth elements recovery opportunities.
  7. Geothermal power plants can be built to meet demand and manage or reduce the risk of project cost overruns associated with large-scale projects.
  8. Geothermal offers increased food security and price stability.
  9. The physical and environmental footprint of geothermal is small.
  10. Geothermal offers a means to “green” oil & gas and mining operations.

Based on the report findings CanGEA urges the government to adopt the following five-point plan to become a world leader in geothermal:
  1. Implement a one year moratorium on the final investment decision on Site C to allow time for further due diligence on geothermal. 
  2. Refer geothermal to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) for review and recommendations by November 2015 in accordance with section 5 of the Utilities Commission Act. This BCUC review would include review of our findings by independent international experts and a public hearing. 
  3. Establish a public education program on geothermal energy production in BC, which includes the development of demonstration projects.
  4. Form a task force to make recommendations on the policy and regulatory changes required to support cost effective and efficient development of a geothermal industry in BC by 2020. 
  5. Hold a government and industry sponsored international symposium on geothermal energy production in Vancouver in 2016.
Additionally, I would also argue that the BC Geothermal Resources Act needs an immediate overhaul to create conditions more friendly to Geothermal prospectors.  Note that in the ring of fire, a coastline that surrounds the entire Pacific Ocean, Canada is one of only a few nations that have no Geothermal energy production.  Since we have almost the highest capacity, this is shameful and we have to ask ourselves "how could this have happened?".  The answer is within the BC legislature.  The BC Geothermal Resources Act must be revised and we must make our region open to Geothermal energy production.  This must happen now!

I may have committed political suicide by running on this platform.  After all, why would fixing our CO2 emission problems, creating thousands of permanent high paying jobs, creating clean, renewable energy and becoming a world leader in clean energy be of any interest to the average voter. They are more concerned with running red lights in a car with children in the back seat, what happens within our labour unions and other trivial matters.  I set out to provide a solution and it did not appeal to voters.

You can get a copy of the report backgrounder here.

If you would like to show your support for CanGEA's efforts to bring a clean, renewable, and cost effective energy source to Canadians, please consider contributing to this report through our powEARTHful 2.0 campaign.

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