My feature in today’s Toronto Star takes a look at the potential for enhanced geothermal systems as an alternative to natural gas in the oil sands. Major oil companies have quietly formed a consortium called GeoPower In The Oil Sands that is exploring the clean resource in an attempt to reduce emissions that result from oil sands production. Heat in the Earth’s crust could supply enough hot water and steam to replace natural gas use, offering some hope of sustainable expansion of the Athabasca sands.
This story comes in the wake of a recent MIT-led report that concluded there was huge potential for tapping geothermal energy if we can drill deep enough. It turns out the technologies for doing this have advanced at an amazing pace and the oil industry can leverage its own skills and experience in this area.
This is an exciting development that I hope our governments can support — both financially and politically. In fact, two expert panellists from the MIT-led study say Canada should establish its own expert panel to study enhanced geothermal applications for the oil sands and other areas of the country (even Ontario).