Thursday, July 23, 2015

More on Geothermal Energy in British Columbia

The article below recently surfaced via the Vancouver Sun.  As a person who has been a large proponent of Geothermal energy and a former consultant with the United States Department of Energy (US DOE), I have been advocating that BC MUST start developing geothermal power for years. Every other country in the ring of fire uses this abundant, clean and reliable/renewable source of energy, except Canada.

Our current BC Geothermal Resources Act, a BC statute, reads like a manual for keeping geothermal development to a minimal. Our provincial policies and processes are not conducive for geothermal companies to work in BC, nor have our politicians taken the necessary steps to start this clean and renewable energy industry in BC.

When I ran as an MLA candidate, my platform was strongly advocating the use of geothermal power instead of options like Site C or Fossils Fuels. If BC begins to use electric cars en masse, we will need a huge increase in power. even without, we can develop and sell power to other jurisdictions to replace their reliance on fossil fuels.

My dream is one day that we will start to use this form of power.

B.C. geothermal projects promising, but ‘high very risk’
Developer eager to work on proposal with BC Hydro
Bruce Constantineau
Vancouver Sun
July 22, 2015 5:55 PM

VANCOUVER — Two potential geothermal energy projects near Pemberton could
generate electricity for about seven cents a kilowatt hour — only slightly
higher than the 5.8 cents to 6.1 cents a kilowatt hour cost estimate of
the Site C dam project.

That's the conclusion of a recent Kerr Wood Leidal Associates study on the
economic viability of geothermal resources in B.C., which considered nine
of the most favourable geothermal sites in the province.

There are no geothermal energy projects operating in B.C. but the study
estimated the cost per kilowatt hour for the nine sites would range from
6.9 to 7.1 cents for Pebble Creek and Meager Creek near Pemberton to 17.6
cents for Clarke Lake near Fort Nelson.

BC Hydro senior strategic technology specialist Alex Tu said some of the
projects appear promising but stressed the cost estimates are still "very
uncertain" and carry a lot of risk.

"Even though it says seven cents a kilowatt hour, it's still a risky
proposition," he said. "All the geothermal in the province is still looked
at as very uncertain and very high risk but if you can make the project
happen, seven cents is a good price."

Tu noted BC Hydro invested tens of millions of dollars drilling at the two
Pemberton area sites in the 1970s and 1980s but could only produce enough
steam for a 20-kilowatt demonstration facility that operated for 18

Geothermal power facilities work by drilling into the earth and
redirecting steam or hot water into turbines that convert the energy from
the fluid into electricity.

Tu said Hydro has always been open to geothermal power as an alternative
energy source but no geothermal projects have ever been submitted to Hydro
in any of its calls for power from independent power producers.

Hydro's standing offer program offers to pay producers $100 a megawatt
hour for smaller energy projects of up to 15 megawatts. The two Pemberton
area geothermal sites each have estimated capacities of 50 to 100

Borealis GeoPower chief geologist Craig Dunn, whose Calgary-based firm
hopes to build two geothermal power plants in B.C. by 2018, said he was
excited by the Kerr Wood study, which was commissioned by BC Hydro and
Geoscience BC.

"I think it's a giant step forward in recognizing that geothermal is a
viable energy opportunity for the province of British Columbia," he said.

Dunn said the drilling and turbine technology associated with geothermal
power continues to improve, making that form of energy more economically
viable than ever.

"As a private developer, I know that my costs are significantly less than
the estimates," he said.

Tu estimated the cost of the two proposed Borealis geothermal sites near
Valemount and Terrace at about $120 to $140 a megawatt hour but Dunn said
current drilling economics — with many drilling rigs now inactive due to
the oil industry slowdown — could cut that estimate by 25 to 50 per cent.

"We look forward to working with BC Hydro within the standing offer
program pricing (of $100 a megawatt hour)," he said. "We believe that we
can be economic."

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