While the BC Ministry of Environment continues to promote the LNG (liquified natural gas) industry as the world's cleanest and decisions are being made to build a third dam in the Peace River Valley, a new report from CanGEA (Canadian Geothermal Energy Association) shows that BC has the potential to power the entire province with geothermal energy.
The new report and maps show areas that have a geothermal energy potential of 5,500 MW using current technology. Only 23 percent of the province is included until more data becomes available. The report states that the full technical potential could provide more than the needs of the entire Province. Most of the research is in the region of NE BC where there are reports from the oil and gas industries. This is also the area of the proposed Site C dam.
The report of the Joint Federal/Provincial Review Panel of BC Hydro's Site C Dam proposal includes statements that question whether BC Hydro has pursued alternatives to the expensive dam project. The Panel states there are alternative sources of power available at similar or somewhat higher costs, notably geothermal power. These sources, being individually smaller than Site C, would allow supply to better follow demand, obviating most of the early-year losses of Site C. The Panel concludes that a failure to pursue research over the last 30 years into B.C.’s geothermal resources has left BC Hydro without information about a resource that may offer up to 700 megawatts of firm, economic power with low environmental costs.
British Columbia Geothermal Resource Estimate Key Findings:
1. British Columbia has enormous potential to produce geothermal power. There is a sufficient developable resource to meet the entire Province’s power demand. The most conservative view of the Technical Potential of geothermal power in British Columbia is 5,500 MW using only “Indicated Resources” data. The value rises to 6,600 MW when “Indicated” and “Inferred” data is contemplated. This amount is considered achievable with current technology (binary power plants), accessible at the shallowest studied depth of 2,500m, and with the lowest studied recovery factor of 5%. These estimates are calculated under the “Geothermal Reporting Code” using an NTS grid system that only has data coverage in 23% of the Province. Further, it is well understood that the volcanic and crystalline rocks, which make up the preponderance of the ‘white space’ outside of BC’s current data coverage, have greater geothermal potential than the sedimentary zones, for which data exists. As such, an estimate of British Columbia’s full Technical Potential should be multiples of that calculated for the sedimentary zones, and therefore much more than the entire requirements of the Province.
2. There is significant room to improve both the Data Coverage and Confidence of the estimates of British Columbia’s geothermal potential
Data Coverage: It is not within the scope of this report to acquire data. However, within British Columbia, there are many other sources of potentially useful data that could be easily acquired. These include taking relevant measurements from existing mining exploration and water wells. Currently, taking relevant geothermal measurements are not part of the required reporting for these activities.
Confidence: Significant water production data exists from the Oil & Gas properties being exploited in northeast British Columbia. While not within the scope of this work, this information can be combined with the relevant thermal measurements to produce a “Measured Resource” estimate of the geothermal potential of specific reservoirs. This is a higher degree of confidence than “Indicated Resources” and “Inferred Resources”, where these reservoirs are currently categorized, and is a large step forward in moving between resource and reserve categories in the Geothermal Code for Public Reporting of Resources and Reserves.
3. Priority geothermal exploration areas are identified through the confluence of key surface and subsurface data.
Progress at the Industry level is predicated on individual project success. Accordingly, priority exploration areas for geothermal energy production need to not only consider subsurface contexts but also highly relevant surface features (demand, transmission, roads, parks, lakes, et al) that can greatly influence project economics. This is what CanGEA refers to as Favourability Maps
Also this week, the Minister of Environment Mary Polak issued a press release outlining B.C.’s Liquefied Natural Gas Strategy in clean energy and climate action .
“The export of B.C. LNG is both an economic and an environmental opportunity for the province. As the cleanest-burning fossil fuel, natural gas is part of a global climate solution” said Polak.
The Province consulted with industry on the best way to achieve these goals and concluded:
An emissions benchmark with flexible options - including purchasing offsets and a technology fund - will be the most effective at meeting the Province’s goals while maintaining LNG industry competitiveness.
- An emissions benchmark with flexible options - including purchasing offsets and a technology fund - will be the most effective at meeting the Province’s goals while maintaining LNG industry competitiveness.
- The benchmark and its compliance costs must be viewed in the context of total B.C. operating costs to ensure the province remains a competitive place to invest.
- A program will be included to provide a pro-rated incentive to companies for achieving the benchmark based on the LNG industry’s compliance costs, which will ensure the competitive investment environment continues. By encouraging investment in advanced technology and rewarding achievement of world-leading performance, the program will help ensure the development of the cleanest LNG facilities in the world.
CanGEA is a non-profit industry association that promotes the industry and the potential of geothermal energy in Canada through outreach events, research, policy work and representation of Canadian interests internationally.http://www.cangea.ca/